Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Death of Sam Cooke


A few weeks after Cooke's death, his record company released "A Change Is Gonna Come" and "Shake" as a two-sided single. Each song was a hit on both the pop and R&B charts.

On February 24, 1964, 66 days after Cooke was buried, his widow married Bobby Womack, Cooke's 21-year-old guitar player and former member of the Womack Brothers, a band that Cooke had helped nurture. Womack later said he wed Barbara out of sympathy, fearing she might be suicidal if left alone.

Whatever their motivation, their bliss did not endure. The couple divorced in 1970.

In another curious twist, Cooke's daughter Linda married another of the Womack brothers, Cecil. They enjoyed a moderately successful career as a soul duo, Womack and Womack.

In 1986, Sam Cooke was elected as a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Three years later, he was inducted again as a member of the Soul Stirrers.

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