Without a doubt, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding were two of the best vocalists of the 20th century. Though both died young, under tragic circumstances at the height of their careers, their music remains an indelible part of our culture.
However, with their continuing fame, the debate rages on: Sam or Otis?
Personally, I prefer Sam Cooke. His voice had a distinct smoothness, but also a greater range than Otis'. Plus, I love his covers, including a version of "Tennessee Waltz" and "Blowin' in the Wind" from this live television appearance.
When I first started listening to Sam Cooke, I was blown away by how many well-known songs he had produced in such a short lifetime. Cooke died in 1964 at the age of 33-- shot to death by a Los Angeles hotel manager (read more about his death here).
Otis, on the other hand, can hit soulful highs like no one else I have ever heard. Just listen to this live version of "Try a Little Tenderness," which builds to a pounding climax.
That was one of Otis Redding's final performances before dying in a plane crash in 1967 at the age of 26.
It's tragic that Sam and Otis died so young, yet each left behind such a magnificent body of work that their legacy continues to this day. I highly recommend checking out Otis Redding Live in Paris and London and Same Cooke's live performances at the Copacabana and the Harlem Square Club. These albums a truly essential for any music fan.
So who do you prefer: Sam or Otis?
Have a great Music Monday!