Sam Cooke

  • Year:
  • Inducted by:
    Herb Alpert
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Sam Cooke sang from the soul.

He was the definitive soul man. Cooke was seductive, devoted, elegant and moving. These qualities combined with his dazzling, pure voice made him irresistible to audiences regardless of race or religion.

Hall of Fame Essay


Michael Hill

In 1956, Sam Cooke released his first pop song, “Lovable,” under the name Dale Cooke so as not to alienate the gospel following he’d amassed in his five years as lead vocalist for the Soul Stirrers. 

One of eight sons of a Baptist minister, Cooke saw the divi­sion between the secular and the sanctified; so did Art Rupe of the Specialty label, who dropped Cooke when his pop aspirations became clear. Cooke’s fa­ther, on the  other hand, gave Sam his blessing.

A year later, Cooke recorded “You Send Me,” a song he’d written himself, for the Keen label. It sold 1.7 million copies and reached Number One on both the pop and R&B charts.

The Program Cover from the 1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
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forget about all the intellectual things. Just listen with your stomach.
Sam Cooke