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Number 1 With A Bullet: Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me”

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Sam Cooke

One of the many Sam Cooke compilations with "You Send Me" (from the author's collection)

One of the most influential singers in popular music, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Sam Cooke[/lastfm] scored his first Number 1 with his celebrated single, “You Send Me.”

Born in 1931, the son of a Baptist minister, Cooke found fame at the age of 19, when he replaced R.H. Harris as the lead singer of the gospel group, the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Soul Stirrers[/lastfm].

Approached by Specialty Records A&R man “Bumps” Blackwell in 1956, Cooke recorded his first secular single as “Dale Cooke,” so as not to offend his gospel audience. His voice couldn’t be hidden, though; once his partners got wind of his “other life,” he was fired from the Soul Stirrers and became a full-time pop singer.

When Specialty refused to release any more singles, Cooke signed with Keen Records, where he recorded until 1960, when RCA bought his contract for an astronomical $100,000 (roughly $700,000 in 2011 dollars).

“You Send Me” was Cooke’s very first single for Keen, his very first hit and his only Number 1, where it sat for two weeks in December 1957. His companions in the Top 5? [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Elvis[/lastfm], the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Everly Brothers[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bill Justis[/lastfm] and the Rays, with their hit, “Silhouettes.”

From American Bandstand:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqzv1ZS6uZs

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