Singer Joe Cocker passed away today of lung cancer. He was 70.
The British born Cocker came to international performance with his cover of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” at Woodstock in the summer of 1969. I remember when I went to see Michael Lang talk about Woodstock a few years ago, he spoke about Cocker who he later managed. Cocker was often compared to Ray Charles and Lang assumed Cocker was black. The voice didn’t match the body
Cocker would also be remembered for his interpretation of other songs such as The Box Tops’ hit “The Letter” with a little help from Leon Russell on piano, the Dennis Wilson-Billy Preston collaboration “You Are So Beautiful To Me” and, if you were a sentient being in 1982, you heard the Buffy Sainte-Marie penned “Up Where We Belong”, a duet with Jennifer Warnes.
I had the privilege of seing Cocker open for The Guess Who at The Tweeter Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts three days after the 9/11 attacks. The concert was a much needed respite from the horrors of that week.
Last September, during at concert at Madison Square Garden, Billy Joel revealed that Cocker was in poor health and that his last wish was to be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, this did not come to pass.
There might not be a place for Joe Cocker in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, but there is a place for him in Rock ‘n Roll Heaven.