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Joe Cocker

(1961 – 2014)

John Robert “Joe” Cocker OBE (20 May 1944 – 22 December 2014) was an English rock/blues singer who came to popularity in the 1960s, most known for his gritty voice and his cover versions of popular songs, particularly those of The Beatles.

Joe Cocker was the youngest son of a civil servant. From 1961 Cocker was by day an apprentice gas fitter and by night, in dark suit and bow tie, he became Vance Arnold singing with The Avengers in rough Sheffield pubs. The set included songs by mentor Ray Charles “What’d I Say” and “Georgia on My Mind. ” Vance Arnold and the Avengers biggest moment came in 1963 when they supported The Rolling Stones at Sheffield City Hall, and brought the house down.

In 1962 Cocker left the Gas Board and released his first single, a cover of The Beatles “I’ll Cry Instead.” His band, Joe Cocker Big Blues, built up a large following in the north of England and ventured to France for a two month stint, playing on American airbases.

The servicemen, many from America’s deep south, loved Joe. The French called him “Le Petit Ray Charles”. Unfortunately when he returned home to England the bottom had fallen out of the local scene. Joe Cocker Big Blues folded.

For an entire year Joe never did a gig. Then along came the man Joe has called the greatest musician in the world, Chris Stainton. With Chris The Grease Band was formed.

Songs were written. Soon a demo found its way to Denny Cordell, the producer of The Moody Blues, Georgie Fame, and Procol Harum. Cordell liked what he heard of Joe, and soon set him up in London with a residency at The Marquee.


Cocker's cover of The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" reached number one in the UK in 1968. He performed the song live at Woodstock in 1969, and at the Party at the Palace concert for the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2002. His version also became the theme song for the TV series The Wonder Years. His 1974 cover of "You Are So Beautiful", reached number five in the US. Cocker was the recipient of several awards, including a 1983 Grammy Award for his US number one "Up Where We Belong", a duet with Jennifer Warnes.

In 1993 Cocker was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male, in 2007 was awarded a bronze Sheffield Legends plaque in his hometown, and in 2008 he received an OBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music. Cocker was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest singers list.


John Robert "Joe" Cocker (born 20 May 1944) is an English rock/blues singer who came to popularity in the 1960s.
He is most known for his gritty voice and his cover versions of popular songs, particularly those of The Beatles.
In 2007, Cocker appeared playing minor characters in the film, Across the Universe, as the lead singer on another Beatles hit, "Come Together".

 

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