why did spade cooley go to prison

Why Did Spade Cooley Go to Prison

Who Was Spade Cooley?

Spade Cooley, born Donnell Clyde Cooley, was a celebrated figure in the American music scene during the mid-20th century. Born in 1910 in Oklahoma, he moved to California during the Great Depression in search of better opportunities. A gifted fiddler, his talent quickly earned him a place in various local bands.

Rise to Stardom

Cooley eventually formed his orchestra, introducing a unique brand of Western Swing music that would make him a star. His television show, “The Spade Cooley Show,” was a hit, and he earned the title “King of Western Swing.”

The Unraveling of Spade Cooley

Personal Life Struggles

Despite his professional success, Cooley’s personal life was tumultuous. His marriage to Ella Mae Evans was fraught with issues, fueled by Cooley’s escalating paranoia and violent behavior.

The Downfall Begins

Cooley’s career began to falter in the late 1950s. His show was cancelled, and his attempts to revamp his career were unsuccessful. His personal life, too, was falling apart.

The Infamous Incident

The Night of the Crime

On April 3, 1961, in a fit of rage, Cooley brutally murdered his wife Ella Mae in front of their 14-year-old daughter. The gruesome act marked the end of his free life.

See also  Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahassee

The Investigation

Police investigations revealed the horrifying extent of Cooley’s violence. His daughter testified against him, recounting the chilling events of that fateful night.

The Legacy of Spade Cooley

Impact on Country Music

Despite his heinous crimes, Cooley’s influence on country and western music is undeniable. His style of Western Swing influenced many musicians and continues to be a significant part of the genre’s history.

Reflections on Spade Cooley

Looking back, Spade Cooley’s life was a shocking mix of fame, talent, and horrifying violence. His story serves as a stark reminder of the dichotomy that can exist within individuals, where great talent can be eclipsed by personal demons.


Spade Cooley’s fall from grace was swift and brutal. From being hailed as the “King of Western Swing” to becoming a convicted murderer, his life story is a dark tale in the annals of country music history. Despite his musical contributions, his legacy remains forever tarnished by his violent actions.


When did Spade Cooley die?
Spade Cooley died on November 23, 1969.

Who was Spade Cooley’s wife?
Spade Cooley’s wife was Ella Mae Evans.

What was Spade Cooley’s biggest hit?
One of Spade Cooley’s biggest hits was “Shame On You,” which topped the charts in 1945.

Why did Spade Cooley go to prison?
Spade Cooley went to prison for the murder of his wife, Ella Mae Evans.

Did Spade Cooley have children?
Yes, Spade Cooley had two children, a son named Donnell Jr. and a daughter named Melody.

Similar Posts