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Tracing the Highs and Tragic End of Sam Cooke

Jan 19, 2006 (Talk of the Nation)

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Cover of 'The Triumph of Sam Cooke'

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Sunday marks the 75th anniversary of the birth of Sam Cooke, one of the most famous gospel and pop singers in American music history. Along with Ray Charles, Cooke was one of the earliest artists to span both musical genres. By the end of his career, he heralded the advent of soul.

Cooke's magical voice animated a long string of hits that came to a sudden end, when he was shot and killed in a motel manager's office in 1964, at the age of 33.

Writer Peter Guralnick talks about his biography of Cooke, Dream Boogie, which sets the singer and songwriter in the context of his times, his ambitions, his enormous accomplishments — and his dark side.

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