Column 6 - published January 5, 1998
SAM COOKE:Not only was Sam Cooke one of Gene's favourite Rock'n'Roll/Gospel artists, but he was also such a good friend that Gene invited Sam to stay at his house while he was passing by on a tour. Check out the enclosed photo below signed by Sam Cooke thanking Gene Vincent for being such a gracious host. Shortly before he died, Gene recorded 4 songs for me, one of which was the Sam Cooke classic "Bring It On Home To Me".
GENE VINCENT'S ROCKIN' SOUL FRIEND
In 1963 I was attending the International School (really mostly American) in Milano, Italy, and, as always, I was promoting my Rock'n'Roll heroes (Elvis, Gene, Fats, Little, Jerry Lee, Haley, Holly, etc.) when some of the kids say: "Forget it, man, Rock'n'Roll is dead; the Twist is the thing nowadays!" Back then I did not know that Hank Ballard wrote the Twist in 1958 as just another R'n'R / R&B song - And to add insult to injury these kids ridiculed my blue-jeans! They said that blue jeans were not only passe but also low class! As you can imagine, I was really upset that these Americans were putting down the Rock.
But I didnt stay upset very long: Sam Cooke came to the rescue! "Twistin' The Nite Away", the multimillion seller from 1962 that is, has a line saying: "Here's the fellow in Blue-Jeans..." and another line: "Twistin' to the Rock'n'Roll..." Well, well, well now, I go back to those snotty kids and say: "Hey, looks like you guys are a buncha squares after all, who have had your brains freezed out in the Milano cold for too long, while the real gone cats in the States are twisting to the ROCK'n'ROLL, indeed Real Americans do know that the THE TWIST is nothing but another way to dance Rock'n'Roll music, and furthermore they are dancing in BLUE-JEANS like the Real Americans that they are, and not wearing gray flannel pants, white shirts and ties like a buncha Milanese sissies, which you fellas seem to have become!" I dont think those snobsters ever knocked the Rock again! Thank you Sam Cooke for standing up for Rock'n'Roll!
Sam Cooke got his music business start with the Gospel group The Soul Stirrers. The Soul Stirrers were founded in 1934 in Texas, but later operated out of Chicago, where Cooke, son of a Baptist minister, performed as a child in a quartet known as the Singing Children. In 1949 the Soul Stirrers were signed to Art Rupe's Specialty Records in Los Angeles and Sam became their lead singer. (After Sam went solo, Johnny Taylor got the job). Question: what are the Soul Stirrers doing nowadays? If you know the answer, please e-mail me at: ROCKIINRON@AOL.COM
Already as a singer for the Soul Stirrers Cooke became a sex symbol attracting hordes of teenagers previously uninterested in Gospel Music. At the end of 1956 Bumps Blackwell, the producer of Little Richard, decided to form his own record company, Keen Records, and a year later Sam's first smash hit as a solo artist, "You Send Me", was released by Keen Records. "Win Your Love For Me", "Wonderful World" followed. So successful was this sexy soulful young man that in 1960 RCA signed him. Many more million sellers came: "Cupid", "Chain Gang", "Only Sixteen", "Another Saturday Nite", "Having A Party", "Bring It On Home To Me", "Twistin' The Nite Away" just to name a few.
His influence was pervasive: from Gene Vincent to Otis Redding to Percy Sledge to R.B. Greaves to Smokey Robinson to Jerry Butler to Bobby Womack to Sonny Charles to... Sam Cooke's unique stirring voice, whether in a ballad or Big Beat number, has that rare quality to curl your toenails, to raise the hair on the back of your palm, in other words to make you quivver and shivver in dazed amazement that such a God-like sound could come out of the mouth of a mere mortal! Of course if the quality of his compositions were not superb also, his God- like vocal styling might have been impeded. Thank God such is not the case!
(Suggested CD: Sam Cooke - The Man And His Music RCA PCD1-7127)
SAM COOKE, GENE VINCENT'S soul mate and close friend; SAM COOKE, you bring joy and happiness to us all; SAM COOKE, you turn the word SOUL into a deep emotional spiritual feeling with those golden pipes of yours; SAM COOKE, you truly are an AMERICAN ICON; you are the SOUL of Rock'n'Roll Music!
Always Rollin' The Rock,
Rockin' Ronny Weiser,
100% COWBOY ROCK'N'ROLL FROM LAS VEGAS, THE WILD WILD WEST!