Joe Cocker dies aged 70
Joe Cocker, an indomitable music force, passed away on the 22nd December from lung cancer. His agent Barrie Marshall confirmed the news referring to him as “without a doubt the greatest rock/soul voice to come out of Britain.”
Born John Robert Crawford in Sheffield in 1944, Joe seemed destined to become a gas fitter, although his love for the music of Ray Charles and Lonnie Donegan proved influential. He spent his youth gigging in various bands alongside his work, covering blues and soul classics with his rugged voice, making them entirely his own. He built up a strong local following around South Yorkshire and even supporting bands like Rolling Stones in 1963.
He is perhaps best remembered for his cover of The Beatles With a Little Help from my Friends, a UK number one single in 1968. The following year he performed it onstage at Woodstock, a piece that stole the show and was one of the most iconic sets of the legendary festival.
He struggled throughout his life with alcohol and drug addiction, but that did not prevent him from being a prolific recording artist, releasing over 40 albums during his career. He has known for lengthy tours starting with the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour of 1970, which hit 48 cities in 56 days with a 30-piece band. In 2007 he received an OBE for his services to music, in recognition of this lengthy career.
Surviving Beatles, including Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were among stars to leave tributes, with McCartney stating: “He was a lovely Northern lad who I loved a lot and, like many people, I loved his singing.”
He is survived by his wife Pam, who supported him into sobriety; the charitable foundation they founded together The Cocker Kids Foundation, which helps local youth with education, arts and sports; and his extensive discography.