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Sam Cooke Is a Hot Item

July 6, 1964 - “Man, that cat makes a riot at the record counters,” was the way one youthful enthusiast of contemporary music described Sam Cooke. “He’s a dreamy bit of merchandise, real wild and real big. RCA has latched on to a winner.”

Mr. Cooke is a hot item. In the last year and a half, he has made eight recordings. All of them sold in the top ten. The result was a riot at the record counters — total sales of more than 10 million copies.

Most of the elders will not have heard of young Mr. Cooke — but he is gunning for them.

“You know those old cats,” Mr. Cooke says. “They don’t go out much. A lot of them are lonely. They NEED records. They need them worse than anybody. I’m going to sell them.”

Mr. Cooke may sell the elders. He is now winding up a two-week stand at the Copacabana — hardly a teenage soda fountain. Considering the season, it has been a successful run. Mr. Cooke puts on a good show.

He is on the big, shiny nightclub floor for just short of an hour. A thin talent becomes transparent in all that light in that space of time. Mr. Cooke’s talent stands the test. He has dignity, humility, and feeling to go with a strong voice.

Rhythm is a strong point for Mr. Cooke. But as the program moves along, another ally is discovered. Mr. Cooke, the son of a Baptist minister, is a man steeped in the Negro spiritual tradition. He is at his very best when he sings those spirituals. In them, Mr. Cooke blends rhythm and feeling.

As for Mr. Cooke’s popular items, he can sing a rocking-socking twist with the best of them. He can call upon a falsetto style that would inspire teenage shriekers were teenagers present.

On the bill with Mr. Cooke is Lee Allen, a talented tap dancer and a resourceful comic. “I don’t mind if you eat,” Mr. Allen says to a man whose face is buried in his shrimp cocktail. “But please try to chew in my direction.”

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