*Sam Cooke’s teenaged sweetheart Barbara Campbell Cooke has died at age 85. Cooke was 18 and Barbara was 13 when they met on the South Side of Chicago.
As reported by the New York Times, after Sam’s death in 1964, his widow went on to marry Sam’s protégé singer Bobby Womack.
Here’s more from RadioFacts:
Fans of Sam Cooke were revolted against Bobby and Barbara and Bobby Womack’s career was at a standstill for years. Sam had discovered and helped Bobby and his brothers get a recording deal. They were called the Valentinos. In addition, Bobby had an affair with her daughter Linda Cooke (later Linda Womack) which caused Barbara to shoot Bobby. No charges were filed. Her daughter was in the group Womack and Womack and ended up marrying the late Cecil Womack who was the younger brother of Bobby.
Womack died in 2014 at 70.
Barbara Cooke is reportedly survived by her daughter Linda (who now goes by the name Zeriiya Zekkariyas), and another daughter, Tracey Cooke; her twin sister, Beverley Lopez; and a granddaughter.
READ MORE: Sam Cooke Estate Signs with ALG Brands
Sam Cooke’s mysterious death was explored in Netflix’s “ReMastered” series, “The Two Killings of Sam Cooke.” The motive behind the death of the soul legend at age 33 to this day remains unresolved.
Cooke was reportedly shot at the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles on December 11, 1964, by motel manager Bertha Franklin, who claims it was self-defense, as he tried to attack her. The motel owner Elisa Boyer co-signed the story and the court accepted Franklin’s explanation as “justifiable homicide.”
The case was closed but the Netflix series “ReMastered” took another look at the evidence, court testimony, and how Cooke invited controversy and threats for championing Civil Rights and refusing to play segregated venues, per Rolling Stone.
As one interviewee suggested, the bigger a star Cooke became, the more threatening white folks perceived him to be.
Here’s a description of the episode via Rolling Stone:
“The Two Killings of Sam Cooke” explores how the musician who was deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement became an influential figure to other black musicians which led to him being seen as a dangerous agitator by the white establishment within the record industry. The show delves into the circumstances and conspiracies surrounding his untimely death aged 33. Seeking to understand if his outspoken beliefs and political activism caused him to become a target, an advocate that the industry wanted to suppress.
“The Two Killings of Sam Cooke” is streaming on Netflix.