Joe Cocker - Rock Singer
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
2006 Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Carl Lender
Quick Cocker Query
What Do You Think of Joe?
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
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.
"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 thecelebritycafe.com
1970s and 1980s
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)
Greatest Hits (1977)
Luxury You Can Afford (1979)
Sheffield Steel (1982)
The Best of Joe Cocker (1983)
Civilized Man (1984)
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)
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)