Sam Cooke

Singer After being dropped from gospel giants the Soul Stirrers for his foray into secular music in the 1950s, Cooke began a successful solo career that added a gospel tinge to his soul sound.  His most notable song, "A Change Is Gonna Come," became the soundtrack to the Civil Rights struggle.  Unlike other artists of the time, Cooke took the reigns of his business, creating his own publishing company and record label, SAR, which would later record the Soul Stirrers and Bobby Womack.  In December of 1964, Cooke was shot to death at an L.A. hotel, by a manager who claimed he tried to attack him.

(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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