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Sam Cooke - Legend

4.9 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An extended version of the acclaimed VH-1 Legends biography of Sam Cooke, featuring over two hours of additional interviews with Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, Lou Adler, Bobby Womack and other legends as well as rare and never-before-seen performance clips!

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Written by Peter Guralnick (Lost Highway) and narrated by Jeffrey Wright, Sam Cooke - Legend is a stirring look at a singular talent. Produced for VH1 but expanded from the original broadcast, this tuneful documentary can't possibly examine every detail of the late singer-songwriter's life in a mere 70 minutes. Nonetheless, Guralnick, who has overseen the reissue of several Cooke CDs, has put together a surprisingly thorough biography. Destination points include Cooke's gospel roots, groundbreaking career decisions, and forays into the civil rights movement. The story is fleshed out by vintage performance and interview clips (the chats with Dick Clark are particularly insightful). Commentators include family members and fellow performers like Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, and Bobby Womack, while musical highlights include Cooke's version of Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" (a song he wished he had written) and a breezy duet with friend Cassius Clay (soon to become Muhammad Ali). --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • Region 0 (NTSC format)
  • Additional interviews with Lou Rawls, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Luigi Creatore, Lloyd Price, Lou Adler, Linda Cooke-Womack (Zorilyn), L.C. Cooke, Charles Cooke, Agnes Cook-Hoskins, and Magnificent Montague
  • Biographies
  • Discography

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Abkco
  • DVD Release Date: June 17, 2003
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009PJQJ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,274 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harley P. Payette on June 24, 2003
No serious rock or pop fan should be without this excellent biography. Written by Peter Guralnick and featuring spectacular interviews with many Cooke intimates like Bobby Womack, Aretha Franklin, brother LC, and Lou Rawls this documentary, that originally appeared on VH1 in a truncated form, gets to the heart of who Cooke was.
Many fans are familiar with Cooke's spectacular singing but few know of the important role he played in the Civil Rights Movement. We find out here that he was one of the first, if not THE first, artists to refuse to play to segregated audiences. We find out how he was one of the first prominent African-Americans to let his hair grow natural instead of slicking it down to appear white. We find out about the record company he started to help young African-Americans, who might be passed over by the majors, get a chance. We find out that Cooke was one of the first performers in all of pop music to acquire ownership of his own recordings (still unheard of today).
But the real meat here focuses on Cooke's mastery as a musician. The amazingly perceptive interviews manage to explain not only Cooke's importance in both gospel and pop but actually contain insight into how he did it.
Plus there's a slew of great performance footage of Cooke singing classics like "Twistin' the Night Away", "The Riddle Song", "You Send Me" and a funny, lip synched duet with Jackie Wilson on "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha". Plus, there's some great film of Cooke hanging out with Muhammed Ali including the two harmonizing on "The Gang's All Here". Cooke was a crucial influence on Ali's life and thinking.
The DVD also contains some worthy extras. There are more than two hours of worth of expanded interviews.
Read more ›
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As overdue, essential & welcome as this DVD documentary is for Sam Cooke fans, let me explain why I give it 3 stars.

Nice vintage footage included, and the first time for me to see Sam in action. On the negative side:

First, in typical A&E fashion, the majority of interviewed segments are total fluff..."he had so much charisma, the room would erupt, people went crazy, he was the complete package, I never knew anyone else like him, I knew he had something special" blah blah blab that you hear in every A&E biography of a deceased star. We know all that, he was great. There is no negativity whatsoever, yet minimal substance at the same time.

Two: length. Get the expanded edition or you're stuck with a quick 1 hour show.

Three: total gloss over of his death. Look on the internet for the more in-depth story of the shooting. They skim over this occurance without much dirt on why the married Sam Cooke had a woman back at his room anyway, and why a woman pulled a trigger on such a seemingly otherwise perfect guy.

Four: if you are going to license the minimal TV footage of him in existence, it would be nice to not have it talked over, and so brief. I would prefer to see the uncut footage as a DVD extra feature, not 2 hours of repeated story interviews instead. I want to SEE the man perform, not hear about it second hand.

Otherwise, a good product in a nutshell, but I feel it is also far from complete or as good as it could have been.
3 Comments 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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For someone with the stature of Sam Cooke is has always surprised me how little was out there about him. Before 2000 even good CD's and LP's were hard to get. But things have changed since the beginning of this century. VH1 had a special about him and that documentary has now been released on DVD.

Through interviews with family and friends we get a view of his life from an early age, through the Soul Stirrers and his solo work up to his unfortunate death.

We see and hear his brother and sister, Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls and many more. The docu has been written by Peter Guralnick who has just released a 650 page biography on him in october of 2005.

There is also some footage of Sam in action in various tv-shows and that is the best because there really isn't much around. It would have been nice to add those shows in total as a bonus but the 70 minutes of documentary we have now is perfect for people who don't want to be one of the two extensive biographies yet but want to get a good view of what he was like. And he was more than just the interpreter of songs. He wrote them, produced other artists and was an allround business man.

Of course his death is being talked about too, but don't expect the final solution for that, that will probably never come.

It's the only real documentary on him out there but it's worth buying.
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This biography gave me a very good insight into the true inventor of soul, Sam Cooke. He is my favorite performer of all time, and this DVD helped me take a true look into the person who has helped shape and mold the lives of so many with his timeless style and voice. It has cleared up many rumors and stirred up some suprises about him and also shares many thoughts and annecdotes about him (the ones with Aretha Franklin are the most humorous.) Here is one DVD that is to the point and, like Sam, dosen't skip a beat.
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