Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke: 1964

JW and SC 01 presenting . . .  JW and SC 02 proudly presents . . .  JW and SC 03 tummy poke  JW and SC 04 Sam open-mouthed

SW and SC 05 reciprocal smiles  JW and SC 06 reciprocal grins  JW and SC 07 Jackie demonstrates  JW and SC 08 nose-to-nose

JW and SC 09 Jackie in full cry  JW and SC 10 side-by-side  JW and SC 11 corraling Sam  JW and SC 12 walking off

Blurry images of two impossibly handsome, incredibly talented young men . . . at the top of their game . . . just having a great time together. Possibly in 1960, maybe in 1964. If the latter, only a few months before Sam’s hideous death.

Sam Cooke was the first Black recording artist to figure it all out. He saw where the money was.
He understood why his fellow stars, such as his friend Jackie Wilson, made hit after hit without seeing the money they should be collecting.

Sam Cooke was one of the few not in the grip of the Mob because he was with the cleanest available outfit, RCA, was West-Coast based, and looked after his own interests from the point he left the gospel circuit to explode onto the pop music scene.

He wrote and published his own songs, so the Morris Levy types couldn’t take that huge chunk
of the profits from him. He began buying back his own masters from RCA, insuring he would eventually take in a healthy return on compilation albums. And in the early 1960s, he started his
own record company, SAR Records.

In 1964, Jackie Wilson was tortured (literally) into re-signing a contract with Brunswick/Tarnopol.
It’s a popular notion that Jackie wanted to go work at Motown, but I have never bought into that idea. I cannot see Jackie wanting to be under Berry Gordy’s thumb. My guess would be that he wanted to sign with his buddy Sam Cooke’s company.

And I think both the widely circulated story about Jackie’s torture (he was held outside an upper-story window) and the murder of Sam Cooke in December of that same year were acts meant to keep other entertainers in line.

The “official” story of Cooke’s death was obviously bunk. Killing Sam Cooke was a no-brainer for the Mob: they weren’t making any money off Sam anyway, and they needed to stop him before others got ideas about walking off the “plantation.”

Each time I watch the video of Jackie and Sam, I thank the Almighty for letting the good times roll that day for these fabulous talents . . . these great friends.

6 thoughts on “Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke: 1964

  1. Donnette White

    This is Donnette .Thank you very much I wasn’t exspecting a reply, but I appreciate it.It comes from the heart. I love Jackie Wilson. Ps. Happy 67th belated birthday,keep up the good wok it’s been a long time since I made someones day. Thanks

  2. Donnette White

    I think what happened to Jackie and Sam was a damn shame, but guess what we still remember and love them both and you can’t kill or destroy that.ps, Jackie and Sam will never be forgotten,

  3. extinct327

    It sure is a shame that executives had to be that greedy to completely screw over the people that made them their money. Even worse when like in Jackie’s case they do all they can to have the artist forgotten so no questions would be asked because there was so much talent in Jackie for him to just be forgotten like that. Ray Charles like Sam Cooke also realized the business side of things and where te money was supposed to go.

    1. jackiewilsonlover Post author

      When you get down to it, some of the most damning evidence of what happened is what didn’t happen: no credible biographies, no documentaries, no feature films about one of the greatest artists in the history of popular music.

      Jackie’s personal memorabilia was stolen immediately after his collapse and never recovered. Who would have stolen that for profit and not have marketed it by now? It must have been stolen for another reason, right?

      And who believes that the few scraps of television shows were the only extant video at the time of Jackie’s collapse or even at the time of his death? Plenty of footage exists, for example, of other artists at The Apollo. Are we to believe that there was no video of one of the Apollo’s greatest stars when his contemporaries are on film or tape on that stage? Do you even see still photography of Jackie from The Apollo stage?

      Why is there so little to preserve Jackie’s memory visually? The obvious answer is that some parties want him forgotten. In some ways, it’s surprising that his music wasn’t destroyed, too, but hey, there was still profit to be made there.

      1. Donnette White

        Hi this is Donnette White from Baltimore,md, again,Thanks for this site, I love it can’t get enough of it.ps. harlean Harris is a bitch,but you reap what you soe, she will get hers. As for Jackie’s other children hang in their, sometimes our parents don’t always do the right thing, but I think they do the best they can at the time. please try to forgive Sonny, I think he tried, be proud, he was one of the best that ever did it,try to move on God loves know that.Love and life is a many splendid thing.Ps james Brown Really, love you but really.

        1. jackiewilsonlover Post author


          Thanks for your kind words and your very thoughtful sentiments regarding Jackie’s children. I know without question that Jackie Wilson did right by his children to the best of his abilities. I also know that some of Jackie’s children and grandchildren are extremely proud of him and simply do not have the means at their disposal to say or do much on behalf of Jackie’s public legacy.

          Nat Tarnopol has already had to face his Maker. As you say, a reckoning awaits Harlean, if she has not yet come to grips with what she did.

          The stories of Sam Cooke’s murder and the abuse Jackie Wilson endured from people he trusted are part of our history as a nation. I still hold out hope the truth will be told in both cases. In the meantime, I will do my tiny part to keep the memory of Jackie Wilson alive.

          Thanks again, Donette. It happens to be my birthday, and your comments made my 67th a very happy day.


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