Joe Cocker, gravelly voice of ‘blue-eyed soul’, dies of lung cancer [1944-2014]

Joe Cocker, gravelly voice of ‘blue-eyed soul’, dies of lung cancer [1944-2014]

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2014, 11:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2014, 11:02am

Legendary singer Joe Cocker, whose intense, gritty voice won him wide acclaim that spanned both rock and blues, has died of lung cancer at age 70, his agent said.

Cocker, who started off playing to small audiences in pubs in his native England, gained fame when he jolted the 1969 Woodstock festival with his high-powered version of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” – one of rock’s most successful covers.

Cocker – who on stage would flail his arms so wildly that uninitiated crowds wondered if he had neurological problems – said in a 1971 movie about him, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” that music served as his release and mused that he could have been a murderer if he had not been a singer.

But some of his biggest hits showed a gentler side, including the love ballad “You Are So Beautiful” and “Up Where We Belong,” a Grammy-winning 1982 duet with Jennifer Warnes that figured prominently in the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

“He was without doubt the greatest rock/soul voice ever to come out of Britain,” his agent, Barrie Marshall, said in a statement issued Monday. Cocker died on Sunday evening.

Paul McCartney mourned Cocker as a “lovely guy who brought so much to the world.”

The former Beatle said that he found Cocker’s version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” to be “mind-blowing.”

The cover “totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful for him for doing that,” McCartney said.

Cocker died at his home in the small town of Crawford, Colorado, where he moved some 20 years ago, label Sony Music said.

Cocker had remained prolific, releasing his 22nd studio album in 2012. He moved to Colorado with his wife, who ran a children’s camp, as the rocker sobered up after a notoriously hard-partying youth, when his love for alcohol and drugs brought fears that he would be the latest star to die young.

In 1972, Cocker and his bandmates were arrested in Australia for possession of marijuana and then ordered to leave the country due to a hotel brawl, triggering a debate in Australia about its drug laws.

At Woodstock, despite it being a carnival of counter-culture, Cocker recalled that promoters thought that the then unknown singer’s arm movements were too strange and brought attractive women onto the stage next to him to deflect attention.

Another problem – Cocker had flown in on a separate helicopter and did not know that his entire band was tripping on LSD, he later told the US rock DJ Redbeard.

“I didn’t find out until later,” he said. “I thought they were all looking a bit frisky up there.”

But Cocker wound up taking the stage twice and also performed a cover of Ray Charles’ post-addiction song “Let’s Go Get Stoned.”

Cocker’s popularity came amid the rise of what was known, sometimes pejoratively, as the “blue-eyed soul” of white artists embracing a musical style identified with African Americans.

Asked in an interview last year with Britain’s Guardian newspaper on how he feels the spirit of the blues, Cocker said: “It’s an emotion – a way of carrying an emotion. It’s a very simple format but I find myself leaning that way as I get older.”

He also sang Ray Charles’ “Unchain My Heart,” notably at the mammoth 1988 concert at London’s Wembley Stadium that drummed up support to free South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on his 70th birthday.

More surprisingly, Cocker performed in 1989 at the inauguration of US president George H. W. Bush. Cocker later said that he did not side politically with the Republican president but had hoped – unsuccessfully – that Bush would pardon him for drug offences.

Cocker’s image as a voice of his generation was enhanced when “The Wonder Years,” a popular US television show launched in 1988 that looked back fondly at the 1960s, chose his version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” as its theme song.

The song was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and Cocker was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. But despite the acclaim, Cocker never made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an omission that some fans saw as a snub.

Billy Joel, performing “With a Little Help From My Friends” at New York’s Madison Square Garden in September in a tribute to the ailing Cocker, said he was “amazed” that the singer was not in the Hall of Fame.

Cocker is survived by his wife, Pam Cocker, a step-daughter and two grandchildren. The family plans a private service.

#JoeCocker  #UpWhereWeBelong   #WithaLittleHelpFromMyFriends
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Chaen’s view
I salute Joe Cocker for his rare ability to stir up the soul through passionate songs.

I particularly love his song “Pass it on” which is an inspiration to the mission and coaching that I do.

Published by

Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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