On this day in music history: December 2, 1957 – “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 2 weeks, also topping the Rhythm & Blues chart for 6 weeks on November 25, 1957. Written by Sam Cooke, it is the biggest hit for the R&B vocal icon from Clarksdale, MS. Formerly the lead singer of the legendary gospel vocal group The Soul Stirrers, Sam Cooke’s butter smooth tenor voice, natural charisma and movie star good looks make him an immediate stand out from the other members of the group. After enjoying more than five years of success as their frontman, Cooke is anxious to move out of the world of gospel into secular rhythm & blues and pop. At a time when it is deeply frowned upon for a gospel singer to make that move, Sam records his first solo single “Loveable” in 1956, an R&B/Pop flavored remake of the gospel song “Wonderful” under the name “Dale Cook”. It is obvious to all who it actually is and Cooke begins recording under his own name from then on. However, the singer and his producer Bumps Blackwell clash over musical direction with Specialty Records founder Art Rupe, and the abruptly leave the label. Cooke signs with Los Angeles based indie label Keen Records (owned by Bob Keane) in 1957, and begins working on material. Sitting with a guitar, Cooke comes up with the chord progression that becomes “You Send Me”, quickly writing the lyrics. Sam gives the writing credit to his brother L.C. Cook, to prevent his song publisher from collecting royalties on it. The track is cut at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA on June 1, 1957 with musicians Rene Hall (arrangement and rhythm guitar), Ted Brinson (bass), Earl Palmer (drums), and Cliff White (guitar). During the same session, Cooke records a cover of the Gershwin classic “Summertime” issued on the B-side of the single. Released on September 7, 1957, “You Send Me” quickly becomes a huge hit. First racing up the rhythm & blues chart, then crossing over to the pop singles chart. Entering the Best Sellers chart at #6 on October 28, 1957, it leaps to the top of the chart five weeks later. The success of “You Send Me” is a watershed moment in music history, both proving the widespread mainstream appeal of R&B music, and ushering in the era in which rhythm & blues genre becomes known as Soul music. An R&B and pop standard, “You Send Me” is covered numerous times over the years, with versions recorded by Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Van Morrison, The Everly Brothers and Rod Stewart to name a few. Sam Cooke’s original recording is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998.“You Send Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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