Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke

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Little, Brown, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 750 pages
He was the biggest star in gospel music before he ever crossed over into pop. His first single under his own name, "You Send Me," was an historic success, going to number one on the charts and selling two million copies. He wrote his own songs, hired his own musicians, and started his own record label and music publishing company. At a time when record companies treated black artists like hired help, he demanded respect and a recording contract equal to that of top white artists of the day. And Sam Cooke connected, in songs like "Wonderful World," "Chain Gang," "Another Saturday Night," and "Having a Party" - seemingly effortless compositions that still sound fresh today. In a biography that for the first time tells the full story of Sam Cooke's short, blazing life, prizewinning author Peter Guralnick captures a personality so vivid, so appealing, that it is almost impossible not to fall under its spell. At the same time, 'Dream Boogie' re-creates in remarkable detail the astonishing richness of the African American world from which Sam Cooke emerged, and the combination of style, wit, and resiliency that was necessary in order to survive and overcome the pervasive prejudice of the day. Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Fidel Castro, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. are all part of this story. Sam Cooke also befriended and acted as a mentor to the young Cassius Clay, and he engaged racism, the essential issue of the day, in ways both small and large; writing and recording the civil rights anthem "A Change Is Gonna Come," proudly declaring his decision to wear his hair "natural" years before other black performers stopped straightening theirs, and refusing to perform for segregated audiences in the South - a stance that provoked the threat of violence on more than one occasion. With almost unbearable poignancy and drama, 'Dream Boogie' tells a story at once tragic and true; Sam Cooke's rapid rise to stardom; his troubled marriage and relationships with women; his triumphant recordings and - along with Ray Charles - his reinvention of rhythm and blues as soul music; the joy he brought to live performance and the rolling parties of the road tours; and the senseless waste of his death by shooting at the age of thirty-three. Peter Guralnick's biography is an epic story of American life during a turbulent and hopeful age as well as a deeply moving portrayal of a complex, inspiring artist and human being.

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Dream boogie: the triumph of Sam Cooke

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In 1951, Sam Cooke became the lead singer for the Soul Stirrers, one of gospel music's most popular groups. Six years later, he crossed over into pop music success, writing most of his hits (e.g ... Read full review

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The reviews of this book suggests a definitive assessment of Sam Cooke’s life, but overall it is simply a weighty tome of poorly sourced, regurgitated rumors, old information, misspelled names, and dialogue and thoughts by principals made up from whole cloth. If the reader is completely new to the subject of Sam Cooke then perhaps it will not be a total waste of time, or money. However, for those familiar with his story the only passion this book engenders is irritation. It seems to be nothing more than a cut and paste job of past articles written by authors with a greater depth and appreciation of their subject. What is even more irksome is the shallowness in how the man’s still controversial death is covered. It is treated almost as an afterthought, even though, sadly, Sam Cooke’s violent end has become over the years a very salient part of his legacy. Decades later and all we’re told is even less than what was said days after the event. But as so few books have been written about this exceptionally talented musician perhaps, as the saying goes, “Beggars can’t be choosy.” The verdict: Nothing new to see here. 


The QCs Are in the House c48
Soul Stirring December 19501952
The Further Education of Sam Cook 19531955
Lovable 1956Moy 1957
How He Grossed Over June igJanuary 1958
The Biggest Show of Stars for 1958 1958
Sam Barbara and Linda Christmas 19581959
Having Fun in the Record Business 1960
Scenes from Life MarchJune 1963
Independence Day JuneDecember 1963
Long Time Coming December 1gGyJune g64
The Piper JuneNovember 1964
Uncloudy Day NovemberDecember 1g64

Another Country 1961
BoogieWoogie Rumble JanuaryJuly 1962
Another Saturday Night July 1g62ebruary 1963

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