Soul legend Sam Cooke was only 33 when he died, in Los Angeles, on December 11, 1964. The official story is that Bertha Franklin, the manager of the motel where Cooke was staying, shot him in self-defense, after he burst into her office, practically naked, demanding to know what had happened to Elisa Boyer, a woman who was staying with him. That’s where things start to get fuzzy: Had Boyer escaped rape at the hands of Cooke? Or had she run out after robbing him? Or — as some pro-Cooke factions believe — is everything we know about the singer’s death the result of a conspiracy to kill Cooke?
It will be interesting to see how this and other contentious aspects of Cooke’s life are portrayed in a forthcoming biopic. Given that the film is being developed by ABKCO Music & Records, Cooke’s label, it’s possible that it will attempt to cast the singer in the most favorable light possible. The movie is also slated to be based on Peter Guralnick’s biography, Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke. As Paste reports, we’ll just have to wait and see how the film will tell Cooke’s story, since ABKCO has said it won’t make an announcement about the biopic for a few months.