YOUR NIGHTLY VIDEO: The Real ‘Godfather of Soul’ Was — Sam Cooke

By: Greg Mitchell

Yes, I’m all for giving the late James Brown his due, as we did a couple of days back in this very space. He was, indeed, the “Godfather of Funk,” and maybe even “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.” But when, following his advice, he’s also called “The Godfather of Soul,” I have to rise with an objection.

That was Sam Cooke.

For one thing: James Brown, like most great black singers of the era, started in gospel, in his case, in the early 1950s. And who was the best male gospel singer of that period (indeed, of all time) who influenced him tremendously? Sam Cooke. Recall that nearly a decade passed between James’ first gospelly hit, “Please, Please, Please” and his first funk masterpiece, “I Feel Good.”

Time prevents a full Sam Cooke tribute here (and, anyway, James deserves his moment now). But check out his 1951-1956 gosepl recordings with the Soul Stirrers for the high point of vocalizing in our time — and then his later R&B classics, just before he died in 1964, such as “Bring It On Home to Me” and “A Change Is Gonna Come.” And don’t forget that he was the first leading black entertainer to grow his hair “natural”– and also gave Otis Redding his “Shake.”

Anyway, here is a video/audio tribute to Sam — but first, an obscure song duet between the two coolest guys on the planet in 1963: Sam Cooke and Muhammad Ali. Little known fact: When Ali, after upsetting Liston the first time, shouted his famous quote to someone at ringside — “Didn’t I shock the world?” — that someone was Sam Cooke.

Sam and Ali:

Click here to watch.

Sam tribute:

Click here to watch.


Last night: Amazing, little-seen footage of Nixon the night before he resigned in 1974, giving way to Gerald Ford:

Click here to watch.

Previous: A tribute to James Brown.

Click here to watch.

And for good measure, here’s an explosive rendition of “Sex Machine” filmed at the Olympia in Paris:

Click here to watch.

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