Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Tragic Sam Cooke Story

         Sam Cooke was born Samuel Cook on January 22, 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Sam’s father was Charles Cook Sr a Baptist minister and his mother Annie May Cook. They had Sam and 7 other children. Charles was a travelling minister in the Church of God, a section of the Baptist faith which started around 1900.
     When Sam was 15 years old he became the front man of a teenage gospel group called the “Highway QC’s” where R.B. Robinson, baritone singer of the Soul Stirrers, trained him. With the QC’s he travelled on the gospel circuit and performed on radio shows.

    When the Soul Stirrers’ R.H. Harris left the group because he was sick of the business a very young Sam Cook was asked to replace him. He did an audition and was accepted as a member of the Soul Stirrers. This all happened in 1950 when he was only 19 years old. In 1957, as he himself said, financial situation, caused him to explore the possibility of crossing over to sing popular music.
      He became a successful solo artist from 1957 until his death in 1964, with hits like Wonderful World, Good Times ,Send Me Some Lovin,Cupid, Only Sixteen, Soothe Me and many others most written by Sam himself. Two hits that are always associated with the great Sam Cooke are You Send Me and A Change Is Gonna Come. 

The Sar Story
      Another part of his legacy which has'nt seen the light of day as yet is as a record company owner and record producer.Cooke and his long-time friend and singing associate J. W. Alexander started the Sar label in 1957. It was dissolved shortly after Cooke's death in 1964. The rights to the recordings and the publishing were bought up shortly thereafter by Allen Klein, who was Cooke's last manager. 

   Fifty-seven singles and Four LPs were issued on the Sar label and 11 45s and two LPs on Derby Records.
Many of the records have a strong Sam Cooke sound. All Sar and Derby records remain very collectible.
         Hopefully, someday someone will plot out sensible compilation LPs of most of the issued cuts and the best of what may remain unissued.
   The artists on the label are largely singers and musicians that Cooke and Alexander knew through their years on the "Gospel Highway" as quartet singers .

 I Gonna Forget About You

Sam's Death
   Just remembering Sam is not around to defend himself.
I am not saying that this is not how it happened.There is always two sides too a story, anyway its a long time ago now.History!

      Lisa Boyer was the name of the woman Sam met on the evening of December 10, 1964. She was a singer as well. She was dining with friends, and Sam was to sing the last song of his life, Good News. Apparently he offered to give Lisa a lift home, and ended up taking her to a club called PJ’s. Sam had some sort of altercation there, and they left. He offered to take her home, but he was fuming from the altercation, and drove very fast, all the way to the Hacienda Motel on South Figueroa.
  He registered under the name Sam Cooke, at 2:35am. The woman that signed him in was called Bertha Lee Franklin. She noticed that he was not alone, so she made him change the name to Mr. and Mrs. Sam Cooke. You must be morally correct to sleep in a 3 dollar a night room. They got to the room, and everything fell apart.
   According to her testimony, Sam began ripping her clothes off, and yet still proclaiming they were "just going to talk." Lisa was positive she was going to be raped. She asked if she could use the bathroom, but the door wouldn’t lock, and she couldn’t get the window open. When she returned, Sam was naked. He went into the bathroom after her, and she saw this as her cue to escape. She grabbed her clothes (and apparently some of Sam's), ran out the door, and started to pound on the manager’s door. No answer. (Bertha was on the phone to the motel owner, Mrs. Carr) She fled, to find a phone booth, where she made a call to the cops. By the time the manager opened the door, Lisa was gone.

Lisa’s call was logged in at 3:08 am. "Will you please come down to this number. I don’t know where I am. I’m kidnapped."

       Meanwhile, Sam blows a gasket. He goes to the manager’s office, positive she is in there. He pushed his way in, demanding, "You got my girl in there!" They got into a scuffle keep in mind Sam was wearing only a sport coat at this point nothing else. He tried to shove his way into her apartment, positive that Lisa was hiding in there. He searched it, couldn’t find her, then grabbed Bertha and demanded to know where the girl was.    

   Bertha grabbed her trusty .22 and shot Sam three times. One of the shots was made only an inch from him, blowing a hole in Sam’s chest, collapsing both lungs. "Lady, you shot me," were his last words.

 There was an event only a few months prior to his death which tragically had an effect on the family. Sam and his wife Barbara lost their 18-month child in a swimming pool drowning. They also had two other daughters, age 11 and 4 at the time.

     At Sam's funeral, about 200,000 fans showed up to pay their respects. Lou Rawls, Ray Charles, and Bobby "Blue" Bland all performed at the service. He was buried in Glendale, California at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

A change is Gonna Come 
Cooke wrote this as a protest song to support the civil rights movement, as black Americans fought for equality. Up to this point, most of his songs were either touching ballads ("You Send Me") or lighthearted uptemo tunes ("Twistin' The Night Away"). When Cooke heard Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind," he became determined to write something similar - he couldn't believe Dylan's song wasn't written by a black man.
Blowin in The Wind Sam Cooke

Good Times
        This was one of the last songs Cooke wrote and recorded before he was killed on December 11, 1964. One of Cooke's lighter songs, it's about enjoying oneself at a party. It's an example of one of Cooke's songs that was accessible to white audiences.

Good Times Rolling Stones 
Love this clip 
Mick looks so young 
and looked like he was enjoying himself


       Rolling Stone magazine's Top 100 songs, Sam Cooke's producers had the idea for him to do a song for a girl they had seen on a Perry Como TV show. "She didn't do anything but just look up at Perry Como in the most wistful-type manner," said J.W. Alexander, Cooke's business adviser. Cooke decided to drop in the sound of an arrow being fired "Straight to my lover's heart" whenever the song called for it.

 Johnny Nash Reggae Cupid

Bring It On Home to Me Live Harlem Club

Somebody Would Ease my Troublin Mind Eric Clapton and Sam Cooke

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Amazing Leonardo Da Vinci

    (1452-1519), Florentine artist, one of the great masters of the High Renaissance Leonardo da Vinci who's profound love of knowledge and research was the keynote of both his artistic and scientific endeavors. His innovations in the field of painting influenced the course of Italian art for more than a century after his death, and his scientific studies particularly in the fields of anatomy, optics, and hydraulics anticipated many of the developments of modern science. 
      He was an astronomer, sculptor, geologist, mathematician, botanist, animal behaviourist, inventor, engineer, architect and even a musician. He was all of these things and more.  Leonardo da Vinci remains one of the most fascinating people history has ever known. He once said that "things of the mind left untested by the senses are useless." Leonardo left little untested. Leonardo Da Vinci's numerous skills have earned him the title of renaissance master.

Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 - 1519)

 Da Vinci's Paintings

            The Last Supper
Leonardo da Vinci was already a well known artist when he created his masterpiece The Last Supper. He painted it on the back wall of the dining hall at the Dominican convent of Sta Maria delle Grazie in Italy. The reason the painting is laid out the way it is is that Leonardo was trying to "extend the room", to make it look like Jesus and his apostles were sitting at the end of the dining hall. This painting became an instant famous work, for many reasons. 

 Mona Lisa
    One of the most famous paintings in the world, the portrait of the Mona Lisa is referred to as simply the Mona Lisa, La Joconde, or La Gioconda. It is an oil on board painting that is 77cm high and 53cm wide. It is thought that the portrait is the wife of the wealthy socialite Francesco del Giocondo, Lisa Gherardini.
  People wonder why it is that her facial expression seems to change depending on the direction from which you look at her.
Given the fact that Da Vinci manages to capture so many different emotions and character-traits in one painting, it seems natural that every time one looks at the Mona Lisa, one sees something different, irrespective from which direction the painting is looked at.
   The mouth often tells the truth about a person, and Mona Lisa's suggests balance, in mood and in personality. This is a woman that is young, but displays a calm and sobriety normally associated with an elderly person.the Mona Lisa "may have been painted to mark one of two events.. either when Francesco del Giocondo and his wife bought their own house in 1503, or when their second son, Andrea, was born in December 1502 after the death of a daughter in 1499. The delicate dark veil that covers Mona Lisa's hair is sometimes considered a mourning veil. In fact, such veils were commonly worn as a mark of virtue. Her clothing is unremarkable. Neither the yellow sleeves of her gown, nor her pleated gown, nor the scarf delicately draped round her shoulders are signs of aristocratic status."

His Inventions


  Leonardo's parachute design consists of sealed linen cloth held open by a pyramid of wooden poles, about seven metres long. The original design was scribbled by Da Vinci in a notebook in 1483. An accompanying note read: "If a man is provided with a length of gummed linen cloth with a length of 12 yards on each side and 12 yards high, he can jump from any great height whatsoever without injury."


Leonardo Quotes

The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.
There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see
Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art
Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation ... even so does inaction sap the vigour of the mind.