Soul singer Solomon Burke went to dinner with good friend Sam Cooke on December 11, 1964, then said good night before Cooke took off with a young lady to a motel for a tryst. When the woman disappeared with Cooke’s clothes and money, an enraged Cooke thought the female motel manager was hiding her and attacked her. The manager shot Cooke in self- defense.
Back at his own hotel that night, Burke found a special-delivery letter waiting for him from his wife, saying she wanted a divorce. Then a friend called him to tell him that Cooke had been shot. “I thought he was joking. ‘Sam wasn’t shot, man. I just left him.’ It was no joke. Sam’s death was devastating. He meant so much to me. He meant a lot to all of us. He represented the next level for us. He opened doors that haven’t been stepped through since. He was gonna be the next Nat Cole. He was a dear friend, and now he was gone. I had to get on the train to get on a plane to get back to Sam’s funeral in Chicago. I had no sleep, and I couldn’t get Sam off my mind. There’s the song. I wrote ‘Got to Get You Off My Mind’ to get Sam Cooke off my mind.” Recorded in January with the help of Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler, the song’s lyrics are about Burke’s wife’s leaving him, but Burke sings it in Cooke’s style.