Joe Cocker: farewell to a musical legend
Today the music world bid farewell to a legend. Joe Cocker has died at age 70 after a long battle with cancer. Known for his iconic gritty voice, the Sheffield-born former gas fitter had a career spanning over 40 years and numerous genres. He first shot to fame in 1968 with his cover of the Beatles’ With a Little Help from my Friends. In honour of this influential rock god, here’s a look back at his successful career.
After making it big with his Beatles cover, Cocker went on to play the renowned Woodstock festival one year later, and embarking in 1970 on his famed “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour. Visiting 48 cities, with 34 other musicians and earning critical acclaim, the tour went down in rock history and earned Cocker a hit live album and vast praise. Despite drummer Jim Keltner describing the tour as “a big, wild party” it was a drain on Cocker mentally, leading to a downward spiral filled with drugs and alcohol.
After a two-year break from music, Cocker returned in 1972, opening with a show in Madison Square Garden to an audience of around 20,000. The next decade would be filled with hit albums accompanied by hit-and-miss tours. It wasn’t until 1982 that Cocker would release what is perhaps his best known song: Up Where We Belong, sung with Jennifer Warnes. The song, written for the film An Officer and a Gentleman, was an international hit. It won a Grammy for best duo and an Academy Award for best original song, as well as hitting number one in the Billboard chart.
Cocker continued to be an active contributor to the music world, performing with the likes of Ray Charles and Phil Collins, releasing 22 studio albums and even appearing in the Beatles-inspired musical film, Across the Universe.
In 2007 Cocker was awarded an OBE in recognition of his outstanding contribution to music.