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Cooke's Tour

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A hugely popular and massively influential singer sometimes called the King of Soul, Sam Cooke had an amazing run of hit singles in the late '50s and early '60s, including classics like "Cupid," "You Send Me," "A Change Is Gonna Come," and "Chain Gang." Cooke was also an early musical entrepreneur, starting his own label at a time when that was almost unheard of and putting out early material from Johnnie Taylor, Billy Preston, and Bobby Womack. With an intoxicatingly smooth voice that crossed all sorts of genre and racial boundaries, he was at the height of his career when he was shot to death under mysterious circumstances at a Los Angeles motel in late 1964. Cooke's Tour was one of four full-lengths he released in 1960, and his first for RCA. A concept album based around traveling the world, it almost sounds like old Johnny Mathis, with tons of silky orchestral touches mixed with pseudo-international vibes. While this isn't Cooke's most crucial work, it still highlights his incomparable pipes, which trump the somewhat corny arrangements. "Under Paris Skies," "Arrivederci, Rome (Goodbye to Rome)," and "The House I Live In" are standouts.


Born: January 22, 1931 in Clarksdale, MS

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s

Sam Cooke was the most important soul singer in history -- he was also the inventor of soul music, and its most popular and beloved performer in both the black and white communities. Equally important, he was among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of the music business, and founded both a record label and a publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. Yet, those business interests didn't prevent him from being engaged in...
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