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Monday, August 10, 2009

Legend: Sam Cooke

b. Sam Cook, 22nd January 1931, Clarksdale, Mississippi, U.S.A.

d. 11th December 1964, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Sam Cooke died way before his time. He was one of eight children by a Baptist minister and his wife. Sam first performed publicly with his brother and two sisters in their Baptist quartet, the Soul Children. As a teenager he joined the Highway QCs, before replacing Rebert 'R.H' Harris in the Soul Stirrers. Between 1951 and 1956, Sam sang lead with this gospel group. During that decade the Cook family moved to Chicago's South Side, where the Reverend Charles Cook quickly established himself as a major figure in the religious community. He recorded 'Touch The Hem Of His Garment' and 'Nearer To Thee'. The Soul Stirrers recorded for the Specialty label, where producer, 'Bumps' Blackwell, was to provide Sam with pop material. 'Loveable' / 'Forever' was issued as a single, under the pseudonym 'Dale Cook' in order to avoid offending the gospel audience.

Initially content, the label's owner, Art Rupe, then objected to the choir on a follow-up recording, 'You Send Me', and offered Sam a release from his contract in return for outstanding royalties. The song was then passed to the Keen label, where it sold in excess of two million copies. Further hits, including 'Only Sixteen' and 'Wonderful World', followed. The latter was used extensively in a television jeans commercial and in 1986 the re-issue reached number 2 in the U.K. charts.

Sam left the label for RCA Records where 'Chain Gang' (in 1960), 'Cupid' (in 1961), 'Twistin' The Night Away' (in 1962), 'Bring It On Home To Me' and 'Little Red Rooster' all followed. He also founded the Sar and Derby labels on which the Simms Twins' 'Soothe Me' and the Valentinos' 'It's All Over Now' were issued. Sam's own career continued with '(Ain't That) Good News' and 'Good Times'. The drowning death of his infant son in mid 1963 had made it impossible for Sam

to work in the studio until the end of that year.

On 11th December 1964, following an altercation with a girl he had picked up, the singer was fatally shot by the manageress of a Los Angeles motel. Sam had dinner with a famous artist on the 11th December 1964, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. He and a friend picked up a couple of models and went to a hotel. After arranging rooms, Sam became aggressive with his female friend and frightened her. When he went to the bathroom, she stole his trousers and left the hotel. Sam went into a rage, and, after being unable to find his companion, he started banging on the office door demanding to know where the woman had gone. When inside he attacked the female manager, during the struggle she was able to reach behind her and pull a gun from the desk drawer. In fear for her life, she shot him repeatedly. The female escort's name was Eliza, a euroasian model. The motel manager was not prosecuted, as it was deemed to be self defence. 'A Change Is Gonna Come', went on to become a Soul classic, and was utilised by the Sixties America's Civil Rights movement.

Sam was buried at:
Burial: Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale Los Angeles County California, U.S.A. Plot: Garden of Honor

There are some alleged matters which some believe bring into question Sam's final days, along with the jury trial. These comprise of:

After a brief trial, the jury deliberated for fifteen minutes and came back with a verdict of justifiable homicide. Bertha Franklin and Lisa Boyer were free. The Cooke family hired an private investigator who uncovered the following facts:

Cooke had dated Lisa Boyer three weeks prior to his murder despite the fact that numerous people warned him about her colorful past which included prostitution. If Cooke was dating her, why would he try to rape her?

Singer Etta James revealed in her book 'Rage To Survive,' that Cooke was so badly beaten that his head was nearly decapitated from his shoulders, his hands were broken and crushed, his nose was smashed and he had a two inch bump on his head. These injuries were never explained and a woman could not inflict these type of injuries.

Bertha Franklin had a .32 registered in her name, yet she killed Cooke with a .22, she would move to Michigan and die eighteen months later.

Lisa Boyer would be arrested for prostitution one month after Cookes death and in 1979 she would be found guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of her boyfriend.

Other related matters:

Singer Otis Redding would die three years later on the exact day that Sam Cooke was killed.

Cooke's widow married Bobby Womack three months after his death. They have since divorced.

Barbara sold the Sam Cooke publishing catalogue to a businessman for a mere $103,000. This catalogue currently generates $3-5 million per year.




Thanks to Zand and Mr. Moo for contributions

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Legend : Donald Byrd

b. 9th December 1932, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A

Donald Byrd captured the tenor of his times as did Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard. He studied music at Wayne State University, from which he received his bachelor's degree in 1954. He went on to receive a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music in the mid-'50's. At the same time, he recorded for the Prestige, Riverside, and Blue Note, and Savoy labels (among others), both as a leader and as a sideman.

Following stints with the likes of Max Roach, Art Blakey, and Sonny Rollins, Byrd co-led a band with the baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams from 1958-61. Byrd studied composition in Europe from 1962-63, then returned to the U.S., where he established himself as an academic, teaching at Rutgers, Howard University, and the Hampton Institute. Byrd received his law degree in 1976; he subsequently taught at North Carolina Central University. In 1982, he received his doctorate from Columbia Teachers College. Byrd continued to perform and record, releasing a number of fine straight-ahead Blue Note albums throughout the '60's.

In the '70's, his music took a decidedly commercial turn. During the early Seventies, Byrd put together a group of his students, forming a band whose title became based around his surname. The Blackbyrds. They recorded a string of successful chart singles which included the song 'Walking In Rhythm', an enormous pop hit both sides of the Atlantic. Byrd recorded a number of heavily produced, pop-oriented albums on which his horn was subjugated by disco-fied vocals and string sections.

Byrd worked alongside producers 'The Mizell Brothers' throughout this period with 'Places & Spaces' being considered his finest work at this time. In the '80's and '90's Byrd returned to his jazz roots, recording with peers such as Joe Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson, and with younger musicians like Kenny Garrett and Mulgrew Miller.

In 2001, Donald Byrd had become unwell.



  • Donald Byrd - Byrd Jazz (Transition TRLP 5)
  • Donald Byrd - Byrd's Word (Savoy MG 12032)
  • Donald Byrd Quartet And Quintet (Eros ERP 50067)
  • Donald Byrd - Byrd's Eye View (Transition TRLP 4) (MP3/FLAC)

  • Donald Byrd - Byrd In Paris, Vol. 1 (Brunswick (F) 87 903)
  • Donald Byrd – Parisian Thoroughfare (Brunswick (F) 87 904) / FLAC
  • Donald Byrd Plays Au Chat - 0:15 (Jazz O.P. (F) OMS 7001/02)
  • Donald Byrd - Off To The Races (Blue Note BLP 4007) /FLAC/






















  • Donald Byrd - Getting Down To Business (Landmark LLP 1523)
  • Donald Byrd - Getting Down To Business (Landmark LCD 1523-2)



  • Robert Barnes Sextet (Fortune 113)






  • Earl Zindars/Armando Peraza - The Soul Of Jazz Percussion (Warwick W 5003ST) [also released as Donald Byrd\Booker Little - The Third World]
  • Bunky Green - My Babe (Exodus EXS 6001)









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