- Category : Musician - Popular
- Type : GP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Uncertainty 1
Joe Cocker OBE (born John Robert Cocker, 20 May 1944, Sheffield) is an English rock/blues singer who came to popularity in the 1960s, and is most known for his gritty voice and his cover versions of popular songs.
Joe Cocker was born in Sheffield, England, on May 20, 1944, the youngest son of a civil servant. He left school early and became an apprentice gas fitter. In 1961, he started his musical career in the pubs of Sheffield. Under the stage name Vance Arnold, Cocker sang with his band Vance Arnold and the Avengers . In 1963 the band supported The Rolling Stones at Sheffield City Hall. In 1964 Cocker brought out his first single, a cover of the Beatles' "I'll Cry Instead" with a new band, Joe Cocker Big Blues. This band ventured as far as France, where they played on American air bases. After a lull, Cocker teamed up with Chris Stainton, to form The Grease Band, in 1966. They were noticed by Denny Cordell, producer of Procul Harum, the Moody Blues and Georgie Fame. Cordell set Cocker up with a residency at The Marquee in London.
After minor success in the USA with the single "Marjorine", he entered the big time with a groundbreaking rearrangement of "With a Little Help from My Friends," another Beatles cover, this time from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, featuring lead guitar from Jimmy Page.
In 1969 he appeared at the Woodstock Music Festival. His performance included the following tracks —
"Some Things Goin' On"
"Let's Go Get Stoned"
"I Shall Be Released"
"With a Little Help from My Friends"
Cocker then had a second UK hit with the Leon Russell song, "Delta Lady". He had further success covering Beatles tunes in 1970 with his version of "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" off their Abbey Road album. Though his British success proved difficult to sustain, he enjoyed several chart entries in the U.S. with "Cry Me a River" and "Feelin' Alright" by Dave Mason. In 1970, his cover of the Box Tops' hit "The Letter", which appeared on the live album, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, became his first U.S. Top Ten hit.
In 1969 he was featured on The Ed Sullivan Show. Onstage, he exhibited a physical intensity, flailing his arms around and playing an air guitar, occasionally giving superfluous cues to his band. In 1976, Cocker performed "Feelin' Alright" on Saturday Night Live. John Belushi joined him on stage doing his famous impersonation of Cocker's stage movements.
In the beginning of 1970s the "Sheffield Soul Shouter" had problems with drug abuse including alcohol. He managed to make a comeback in the 1980s and 1990s with several hits, including:
"Up Where We Belong", (Grammy Award winning song written by Buffy Sainte-Marie and sung with Jennifer Warnes for the motion picture, An Officer and a Gentleman)
"You Are So Beautiful"
"You Can Leave Your Hat On"
"When The Night Comes"
"Unchain My Heart"
"Feels Like Forever" from the movie, The Cutting Edge
Cocker performed the opening set at Woodstock '94 as one of the few alumni who played at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969, and was very well received. He continues to tour sporadically, and currently lives on the Mad Dog Ranch in Crawford, Colorado, with his wife, Pam. Cocker was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list for services to music.
Australian controversy in 1972
In October 1972, Joe Cocker toured Australia on his Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour. Cocker and six of his entourage were arrested in Adelaide by police for possession of marijuana. The next day In Melbourne, assault charges were laid after a brawl at the Commodore Chateau, and Cocker was given 48 hours to leave the country by the Australian Federal Police. This caused huge public outcry in Australia, as Cocker was a high-profile overseas artist and had a strong support base, especially amongst the baby boomers who were coming of age and able to vote for the first time. It sparked hefty debate about the use and legalisation of marijuana in Australia. This event took place just before the 1972 Australian Federal election, where progressive left-wing Prime Minister Gough Whitlam came to power and Australia saw the end of 23 years rule of conservative governments in Australia.