Sunday, December 2, 2007

50 years ago: Sam Cooke “You Send Me” hit #1

You Send Me

Sam Cooke

Writer(s): Charles “L.C.” Cooke (see lyrics here)

Released: September 7, 1957

First Charted: October 14, 1957

Peak: 13 US, 12 BS, 11 DJ, 2 HP, 13 CB, 14 HR, 16 RB, 29 UK, 12 CN, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 5.0 radio, 9.5 video, 125.63 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In many ways, Sam Cooke was “the most important Black musician of the late fifties and early sixties.” AH “Without him it’s doubtful…we would have the genre of soul as we know it today.” AH As a teenager in Chicago in the 1940s, he performed in gospel groups. Eventually he became the lead singer of the Soul Stirrers, a group dating back to 1926, and became “one of gospel music’s greatest stars.” SS

By 1956, producer Bumps Blackwell was convinced that Cooke needed to go solo as a secular artist. His first recording session in New Orleans produced the ballad “Lovable.” It was released under the name Dale Cook so as to not tarnish his image as a gospel singer, but fans quickly figured out who it really was. It sold 15,000 copies and failed to chart. SS

Cooke decided it was time to go all in with his own name and a new sound. He sent a six-song demo to Blackwell of himself accompanied only by a guitar. One of the songs was “You Send Me.” SS After they went into the studio to record it, Specialty record executive Art Rupe was “furious…declaring that instead of the exciting gospel-fired singer he’d been expecting, he was getting a bland white-style balladeer.” SS He was also “horrified” by the song featuring white backing vocalists. AH

Blackwell and Cooke left Specialty for Keen Records, a label started just four months earlier. “You Send Me” was released as a single. So that Specialty wouldn’t get any of the royalties, the songwriting credit was given to Cooke’s brother. A Detroit DJ named Casey Kasem (later the host of syndicated radio show American Top 40) helped break the song to mainstream white radio SS and it soared to #1. It became Cooke’s “most famous number and the one that is still most closely associated with him.” DJ


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First posted 8/6/2023.

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