Published Mar 18, 2015Sam Cooke was a pioneering soul singer, but his life was cut short in 1964 at the age of 33 when he was shot and killed. Now, his life and the circumstances surrounding his death are due to be explored on film via an upcoming biopic.
It's being produced by Romeo Antonio with a script from Mary Krell-Oishi, and Cooke's family members are serving at consultants. Biographer B.G. Rule, who wrote the book One More River to Cross: The Redemption of Sam Cooke, is also involved.
This is an authorized biopic, meaning that the filmmakers are being given personal access to Cooke's associates and documents.
Update: Curiously, another company called ABKCO Films is also making a Sam Cooke biopic, and it claims that its own film is the only authorized movie about the soul singer's life. Although Antonio has the approval of a few of Cooke's relatives, it seems that the ABKCO's biopic is the official one.
Cooke's younger brother L.C. Cooke said in a statement to Rolling Stone, "Reports that I am involved with or have endorsed any Sam Cooke film biography other than the one that ABKCO Films is producing are totally false. I have been working with ABKCO for many years and am looking forward to bringing Sam's story to the public in the near future."
Antonio, a former police officer, told the Hollywood Reporter that he will be treating the project like a "murder mystery." Cooke was shot to death in a motel in the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Los Feliz. He was accused of kidnapping a woman and then attacking the motel's manager, who fought him off and shot him. His death was ruled a justifiable homicide.
This account has been questioned, however, and his friends and family have alleged that he was killed due to his power in the music industry; he had set up his own label and publishing company, and was a Civil Rights advocate.
Cooke's nephew Eugene Jamison told the Hollywood Reporter, "For years, people have becoming at us to do a movie about Sam. But he [Antonio] was the first person who sounded like he wanted what we wanted: the truth to come out about my uncle and his death."
Although Cooke's life was short, his songs are still remembered. His hits included "A Change Is Gonna Come," "Twistin' the Night Away," "Cupid," "Chain Gang," "You Send Me," "Wonderful World," "Another Saturday Night," "I'll Come Running Back to You" and more. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
There have been reports of a biopic about Cooke dating back a few years, but it doesn't seem that this latest project is connected to earlier ones.