Segments in this Video

Introduction: Lady You Shot Me: Life and Death of Sam Cooke (02:27)


Cooke could sing pop and soul music and was one of the first African American musicians who understood the business side of recording albums.

Cooke's Death (04:13)

On December 11th, 1964 Cooke was shot at the Hacienda Motel. The police report stipulated that he met a woman and took her to a motel against her will. Bertha Franklin claimed he physically assaulted her before she shot him.

Questioning Cooke's Death (02:53)

Friends did not believe Cooke kidnapped and raped a prostitute; they doubted official reports. A contrived theory was presented to the coroner.

Memorial Services (03:44)

The majority of Cooke's family lived in Bronzeville, Chicago. Muhammed Ali, Michael Jackson, and Herbert Muhammed attended the first service. The second was located at Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Los Angeles; Ray Charles sang.

"A Change is Gonna Come" (04:37)

Cooke wrote the song about being denied entrance to a whites-only hotel. It became the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke during the March on Washington; Barack Obama quoted Cooke during the presidential campaign.

Relinquishing Control (02:46)

Cooke signed over his music rights to Tracey Limited, a company founded by Allen Klein. ABKCO Music and Records declined to be interviewed.

Cooke's Childhood (03:24)

See footage of Cooke appearing on "The Mike Douglas Show." "You Send Me" sold 1.5 million copies. Charles Cook left Clarksdale, traveled to Chicago, and established his ministry at "The Church of God."

Church Singing Groups (03:44)

Eric Green refused to allow ABKCO Music and Records to participate in re-naming a street in Chicago "Honorary Sam Cooke Way." Music groups Cooke sang with included "The Singing Children," "The Highway QC's," and "The Soul Stirrers."

Cooke's First Record (08:16)

Cooke recorded "Lovable" under the pseudonym Dale Cook. Located in South Central Los Angeles, Dolphin's of Hollywood contained a vast amount of African American music recordings during the 1950s. "You Send Me" became a hit song; Percy Ivy murdered John Dolphin in 1958.

Dealing with Prejudice (03:47)

Cooke refused to perform in front of segregated audiences; police attacked Miles Davis in the 1950s. See footage of Cooke singing on the "Arthur Murray Party." Middle-class conservative parents did not mind white teenagers listening to Cooke.

Business Dealings (05:02)

Cooke learned about music rights. In an interview with Dick Clark, he mentioned he wanted to mentor emerging musicians. The SAR label produced the Sims Twins, Mel Carter, and Johnnie Morisette.

Cooke's Partnership (02:46)

Zelda Sands cared about Cooke and wanted him to succeed. The first SAR office had an upright piano, two desks, and a filing cabinet. At Soul Stations across Los Angeles, local musicians collaborated.

Hit Singles (03:38)

Cooke enjoyed living well. After releasing "Only Sixteen," he severed associations with the Keane label and signed with RCA. Keane found "Wonderful World" in a vault.

Ownership Misrepresentation (08:02)

Cooke was a model of success for African Americans. Klein told Cooke he specialized in finding artist royalties. Tracey Limited was established as a tax shelter; Donald Piper believed the main shareholder of the company was Klein.

"Twistin' The Night Away" (03:17)

Cooke was an idol to African Americans. He made records that reflected the values of the time period.

"The Biggest Cooke in Town" Advertisement (02:59)

Cooke performed for the second time at the Copacabana Club in 1964. See footage of him discussing his first appearance on "The Mike Douglas Show."

Martoni's Restaurant (03:18)

Sands wanted Cooke to mingle with other celebrities and introduced him to Martoni's restaurant. Schmitt ate dinner with the singer before he met the prostitute. Cooke had the means to go to any hotel in the city.

Hearing on Cooke's Death (05:45)

The hearing was not as detailed or probative as it should have been; Franklin was acquitted. No one heard a gunshot at the motel and Cooke was badly beaten. Prior to his death, Cooke was removed from the Tracey Limited board of directors.

Forensic Documents (04:55)

Cyril Wecht reviewed the autopsy report by a deputy medical examiner. The report does not mention any contusions or abrasions on Cooke's body. Wecht debunked most of the conspiracy theories surrounding his death.

Conspiracy Theories (05:41)

Years later, Elisa Boyer repeated her testimony almost verbatim when asked about the night Cooke was murdered. There was no evidence to prove any theories. The notary on the certificates of incorporation may have been illegal.

After Cooke's Death (06:30)

Biographer Peter Guralnick revealed Klein and his lawyer presented Cooke with a check on September 26th, 1963. Tracey Limited merged to form ABKCO. The Wendell Phillips Academy High School started a gospel choir to inspire students.

Credits: Lady You Shot Me: Life and Death of Sam Cooke (00:57)

Credits: Lady You Shot Me: Life and Death of Sam Cooke

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Lady You Shot Me: Life and Death of Sam Cooke

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $199.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $299.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



This documentary tells the story of the short yet influential life of one of the most important artists of the 1950s and 60s: Sam Cooke. It takes a particularly close look at the mysterious circumstances surrounding his violent death. Was he killed in self-defence, as officially claimed? Or was it murder, as his family, friends and conspiracy theorists believe? A question that is worth asking, even if it ultimately remains unresolved. Simply looking into the circumstances of his death, controversial to this day, affords insights into the social context during the founding years of pop music, which Sam Cooke defied more forcefully than any other black musician of his day.

Length: 93 minutes

Item#: BVL188691

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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