Sam Cooke: Wonderful World [purchase]
During the time Lou (Adler) and Sam had roomed together, they'd tossed "Wonderful World" back and forth, Sam playing the few chords he knew on the guitar and messing with both lyrics and melody. Cooke fiddled with it as he did with all his material: trying it out on various people, announcing it was his latest hit, showing off to women by claiming he'd written the tune right there, for them. It took shape over a long time and a lot of partying.
"Then what happened," says Adler, "is we were in the back of Keen Records on 3rd Street, and he decided he wanted to cut some things, but we couldn't get the normal drummer that we used. We were cutting them more or less as demos, because Bumps (Blackwell) wasn't there ... We got a drummer that was 15 or 16 years old and was a nephew of one of the musicians." The session on March 2, 1959, could hardly have been more bare-bones. As Adolphus Alsbrook laid down a rhumba bass line, the teenage drummer tracked along, and Cliff White picked a pretty, high guitar line. Behind Sam, hitting the last, rhymed word in each line, is Lou Rawls; Deano Lappas (Keen's house engineer) remembers him standing about a foot and a half behind Sam, singing into the same mic.
--Excerpt from Daniel Wolff, You Send Me: The Life & Times Of Sam Cooke, pp. 220-21