Monday, July 22, 2024

Sam Cooke Finally Gets His “Way” In Chicago


The mighty, legendary Sam Cooke died in 1964. That’s 47 years ago, and still we’re talking about him because his voice and his music are eternal. There isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t hear “You Send Me,” “Bring it On Home to Me,” “We’re Having a Party,” or “A Change is Gonna Come” on some radio station. (Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Nat King Cole, Marvin Gaye-the best!) Bob Merlis sent this to me this afternoon:

Had he lived, Sam Cooke would have turned 80-years-old in January of this year.  His life and legacy were celebrated with the naming of  36th Street,  Chicago, Illinois  as  Sam Cooke Way  on Saturday, June 18.  The location of Sam Cooke Way  in  Chicago ‘s Bronzeville neighborhood, is birthplace to some of  Chicago ’s most talented artists in music and the associated arts. It is where the Cooke family settled after migrating from Clarksdale, Mississippi in the early 1930’s, initially residing at 3527 Cottage Grove Avenue and later moving to 724 E. 36th Street.

Young Sam Cooke attended the neighborhood’s  Doolittle Elementary School  and, in 1948, graduated from Wendell  Phillips High School . The unveiling of the new Sam Cooke Way street sign took place with the participation of the office of 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns,  3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell, Sam Cooke’s younger brothers L.C. and David Cooke as well as other Cooke family members, legendary radio personality and “Mayor of Bronzeville” Herb Kent,  Cook Country Commissioner Jerry Butler (himself a soul music legend), who proclaimed June 18, 2011 as Sam Cooke Day in conjunction with the street naming ceremony), and Chicago Blues Museum CEO Gregg Parker and well over 400 Sam Cooke fans and fellow musicians.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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