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Joe Cocker - Rock Singer

Updated on May 4, 2018

Joe Cocker

I have always loved Joe Cocker's music, and many feel that he has one of the great rock voices of all time. The legendary Cocker has had hit records in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. His gutsy, gravelly, unique vocal style and unmistakable stage presence have made the England native Joe Cocker one of the most dynamic and entertaining rock singers of the past four-plus decades. Cocker died on December 22, 2014, after a battle with lung cancer. He was 70.

1970 Public domain photo courtesy Wikimedia

joe cocker
joe cocker

2006 Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Carl Lender

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On May 20, 1944 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, John Robert "Joe" Cocker was born to a humble early life. Forced to work at a young age, Joe became an apprentice gas fitter by day, but at night, Cocker became "Vance Arnold" fronting The Avengers in the local Sheffield pubs. Joe and the bands big break came in 1963 when they opened for The Rolling Stones at Sheffield City Hall. The exposure and accolades that Joe received from that concert helped to propel Cocker into the musical limelight.

Public domain photo courtesy Wikimedia/Ester Inbar

First Taste of Success

joe cocker music
joe cocker music

2007 Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Arkangel

In the early 1960s, Cocker and The Avengers built a decent fan base in England, but had little commercial success, and the band would soon go their separate ways. Cocker then teamed up with Chris Stainton to form The Grease Band in 1966.

Joe and The Grease Band recorded a tune called "Marjorine", which became a minor success in the U. K. In 1968, they recorded "With a Little Help From My Friends," produced by Denny Cordell of A&M Records. This album featured guest performers Jimmy Page and Steve Winwood. It quickly took off and received airplay on both sides of the Atlantic. The title track hit number one in the U. K., and became a major highlight of the Woodstock Festival in 1969. (Videos below)

"With a Little Help From My Friends" - Classic 1969 Woodstock live video.

Cocker Quote

"Absolutely, I enjoy what I do, and I'm going to keep on doing it as long as there are fans and an audience for it." - Joe CockerQuote via

1970s and 1980s

Joe cocker little help from my friends
Joe cocker little help from my friends

1980 Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Eddie

The Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour kicked off in 1970, and resulted in a #2 live double album that yielded a pair of hits, "The Letter" (#7, 1970) and "Cry Me a River" (#11, 1970), and a film. The albums released during the 70s included; Joe Cocker, I Can Stand a Little Rain, Stingray, and Jamaica Say You Will. None of them were praised by critics, nor did they obtain the commercial success of his previous releases. There were some songs that received airplay, "High Time We Went," "Fun Time," "Put Out the Light," and "You Are So Beautiful," (The latter being one of Joe's biggest hits reaching #5 in the U.S. in 1975). There was a period of about four years where Cocker toured constantly, playing mostly small clubs to make ends meet financially.

Cocker's career got a boost in 1982. A duet with Jennifer Warnes, "Up Where We Belong," from the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, hit #1 in the U.S. Since then, several other Cocker songs have graced films, including his version of Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" (91/2 Weeks), and 1989's "When the Night Comes" (An Innocent Man).

1990s and Beyond

The hard-working Cocker has released fourteen albums since 1990, most notably 1994's Have a Little Faith which scored Joe a top-ten spot on the U. K. album charts. Cocker was the opening performer at Woodstock '94 as one of the few participants who played at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969.

Today, Cocker lives in Crawford, Colorado, with his wife, Pam. Joe still occasionally tours and was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honors list for services to music. While in England, Cocker played two concerts in London and in his hometown of Sheffield.

Joe Cocker is a true survivor. He has had hit records in an amazing stretch that has covered four different decades. After all of the grueling years on the road and in the studio, Cocker has no plans to ease up. "As long as being on stage is fun," says the rock legend, "I'll keep going out there."

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikiedia/Arkangel

Joe Cocker Album Discography

With a Little Help from My Friends (1969)

Joe Cocker! (1969)

Mad Dogs & Englishmen (1970)

Cocker Happy (1971)

Double Cocker Power (1972)

Joe Cocker (Something to Say) (1972)

I Can Stand a Little Rain (1974)

Jamaica Say You Will (1975)

Stingray (1976)

Greatest Hits (1977)

Luxury You Can Afford (1979)

Sheffield Steel (1982)

The Best of Joe Cocker (1983)

Civilized Man (1984)

Cocker (1986)

Unchain My Heart (1987)

One Night of Sin (1989)

Joe Cocker Live (1990)

Night Calls (1991)

The Best of Joe Cocker (1992)

Have a Little Faith (1994)

The Long Voyage Home (1995)

Organic (1996)

Across from Midnight (1997)

Greatest Hits (1998)

The Anthology (1999)

No Ordinary World (1999)

Respect Yourself (2002)

The Ultimate Collection 1968-2003 (2004)

Heart & Soul (2004)

Hymn for My Soul (2007)

Have Opinoins on Joe Cocker? - Feel free to comment here. Thanks for visiting.

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Dear Joe, I got to thinking about some more gernael-ish questions I have for you. Mostly in regards to stuff that I (and other readers) might be curious about but either haven't asked, or haven't thought much about.What is your daily routine like? Do you ever feel like you get stuck in a rut?Do you still have your job after being transferred out and back in?What time do the lights go out? Is it dark or is there still *some light* in your cell?Do you have a window?How long can someone stay in the same cell? Is there a time limit before they are forcibly moved by the staff?If you could bring anything into jail what would you bring?What is the most useful thing you can obtain on the inside? (regardless of contraband status)Is it possible to be happy in prison? Speaking of happiness as a feeling not necessarily in regards to the situation of being a prisoner. (unless some people are indeed happy to be a prisoner?)Do people have magazines sent to them? Is there a limit to how many?Are people with names mentioned frequently during mail call targeted (out of jealousy) more than people that seldom receive mail? Have you found that to be a problem in your situation? (I assume using e-mail is less public'?)Is there a sought after service provided within prison? Like-wise is it better to have a hustle in prison to get the things you need or is it better to lay low, and just buy the stuff with money sent to you?How does the check in' you mentioned in your previous reply work? How do people check in, is there a time limit, are there certain restrictions placed upon you if you do, is checking in considered a disciplinary act? Does it look bad to officials?Have you found that you rescind statements regarding a lot of the negative aspects you face (if any) on a day-to-day basis being an inmate when communicating with family or friends on the outside simply because you know that it would be hard on them to hear because there would be little to nothing they could actually do to help a situation that arose?Do you have an electrical outlet in your cell? Do inmates ever make anything useful that is powered by electricity?I know that there are a boatload of questions there, and some may or may not warrant an extended answer. Take your time, and answer in parts if you need to. I just wanted to send these questions to you that I thought about since reading your reply, and putting myself in an inmates shoes (as much as possible in thought) during this weekend. After reading your blog, and taking on a few of my own personal legal tigers at the moment I truly believe that at some point in my life I will help those being released from prison.A blog seems like such a frivolous thing these days with social media but I thank you so much for all your writings, and insight into a world foreign to most of us on the outside' with the exception of whatever National Geographic or the Discovery Channel feel like makes good tv' which is usually some crazy inmate in super max talking about daily stabbings and bad food.Thanks again,-Matt

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      6 years ago from Alabama USA

      This is nice.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Remember the Woodstock documentary. Guess it's the same as the u-tube video on this page. Still loading while I type.

    • Onemargaret LM profile image

      Onemargaret LM 

      6 years ago

      Lovin it!

    • MrsKatieE LM profile image

      MrsKatieE LM 

      6 years ago

      I really enjoyed the YouTube photo montage of Woodstock. Looking forward to listening to some of his newer music. I have enjoyed his old stuff for most of my life.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A great recording artist, one of the all time best. Excellent lens!

    • HeartBroken62 profile image


      7 years ago

      One of the all time greatest artists...such a unique voice you can pick it out of anywhere! We all definitely get by with a little help from our friends. Thanks for a wonderful job!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Joe is amazing, love his music. he is one of the all time greatest singer is my book. Nice to stop by and bring a blessing here once again.

    • BoobyBits profile image


      7 years ago

      Joe Cocker has earned his place in music history and is a real Gem! Thank you for making this lense here on Squidoo!

    • human2 profile image


      8 years ago

      his last song is really addictive for listen.

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      I like him but I can't think of him without remembering the Belushi acts. So funny.

    • annieangel1 profile image


      8 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      I love Joe Cocker - great lens - blessed by an angel

    • Joyfulmusic90 profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting musician indeed. :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Gotta love Joe! "You Are So Beautiful" is my hands down favorite. That's because it is, well, beautiful!

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      9 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      I bought the original album in 1968, and still have it! What a great voice and a really good guy.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great Lens. I also love Joe Cocker's perfomances and especially his performance at Woodstock. He is one of the best entertainers of all time.

      Come visit my lens about How an exhippie exhales about Woodstock 40 years later.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      How could anyone not love Joe Cocker? Great job on a fantastic lens dedicated to one of the most original and exciting singers ever.

    • motherbunny lm profile image

      motherbunny lm 

      10 years ago


    • motherbunny lm profile image

      motherbunny lm 

      10 years ago

      I'm from sheffield South Yorkshire in the UK and have been very fortunate during my own career in the music business.I grew up watching and greatly admiring the incredible soulfull voice that joe had, so it's good to see people writing about his music.

    • Liam Tohms profile image

      Liam Tohms 

      10 years ago

      Hi, great lens, why not join the Yorkshire group here on Squidoo - for all things Yorkshire (including our famous sons) at

      See you there.


    • eccles1 profile image


      10 years ago

      I love this man his voice and style was his own and what a voice and style he has!!!

      thank you

    • chemrat profile image


      10 years ago

      Great work! Jim

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      10 years ago from USA

      We love Joe! Great lens!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      10 years ago

      Loved him when I was able to hear, it was the voice and antics that I liked.

    • gmarlett lm profile image

      gmarlett lm 

      10 years ago

      Joe Cocker Rocks! Welcome to the Squid Groovy Group. Very nice lens - 5 stars, a fav and a lensroll.


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