cover image You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke

You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke

Daniel Wolff. William Morrow & Company, $23 (424pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12403-8

An important contribution to the history of pop music in mid-century, this work by freelance journalist Wolff in collaboration with singer Craine, guitarist and bandleader White and music researcher Tenenbaum follows the career of Sam Cooke (born Cook) from boy singer in his father's church choir to his murder in a cheap L.A. motel in 1964. Born in 1931 in the Mississippi Delta region, he and his family migrated to Chicago in the Depression. While still a teenager, he was picked to sing in a prestigious gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, in 1951. Later, he crossed over into secular music, where he had a string of hits, including the blockbuster ``You Send Me.'' Handsome and well bred, he was irresistible to many women, married twice and fathered a number of children out of wedlock. The official version that he was shot by a woman during a fight raised many questions, but the LAPD, according to the authors, viewed Cooke as ``just another dead nigger.'' Here we are offered more speculation about his sad end. (Feb.)