This Weekends All Request Saturday Night Feature is Joe Cocker
Joe Cocker is a British singer with a raspy voice who sings his heart out while displaying spastic moves on stage during his performances. Joe did quite a few covers, some better than the originals. And Joe Cocker also did some original material as well usually with his song writing partner Chris Stainton. He had a band with Stainton called the Grease Band which lasted from 1966 to 1969. They mostly played pubs in and around Sheffield.
His first cover on his debut album “Joe Cocker” was the Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends” and I would have to say, his was better than the original. It hit #1 in 1968, and interestingly enough it was also the theme for the TV show “The Wonder Years”, a show that boasted the most awesome music soundtrack. When Joe released his second album, it also contained a Beatles song “She Came in Through The Bathroom Window”
With two albums under his belt Joe joined with his friend Leon Russell who would be the band leader for Joe’s 1970’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour,” which also became a very successful live album. They toured 48 cities on that tour and the members described it as a big wild party.
The pace of the tour was exhausting, Leon and Joe were both dealing with personal problems, Joe became depressed again and started drinking heavily. The recorded live album got rave reviews and his cover of the Box Tops song “The Letter” ended up on the album and in the film and his first top ten hit. After the tour Joe would return to his home of Sheffield.
Joe would continue recording and in 1974 released his cover of “You Are So Beautiful” which hit number 5 on the US Billboard charts and became his signature song. His most popular was a duet with Jennifer Warnes “Up Where We Belong” going to number one and earned him a Grammy as well.
Joe Cocker would continue recording and touring, throughout the 80’s he played to large audiences in Europe, Australia and the United States. In 1988 he played at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and appeared on the Tonight Show. He also performed for President George Bush during his inauguration concert in 1989.
He continued to perform throughout his later years with 2012’s “Fire it up” as his last studio album. While performing at a concert at Madison Square Garden in September 2014, musician Billy Joel stated that Cocker “was not very well right now”, and endorsed him for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Joe died from lung cancer on December 22, 2014 in Crawford Colorado at 70 years old.
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