Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Joe Cocker- 65 Years Old Today

Birthday greetings go out to the legendary John Robert Cocker aka "Joe", who turns 65 today.

Sheffield (UK) born Joe burst into the music scene in the late 1960's with his debut album With A Little Help From My Friends, and his single version of the Lennon-McCartney title song. He electrified the crowd of 400,000 at the Woodstock Festival (Aug 18, 1969) with his versions of Dear Landlord, Feelin' Alright, I Don't Need No Doctor, and With A Little Help From My Friends, among others. His appearance in the film version of Woodstock backed by his group, The Grease Band (Henry McCullough, Chris Stainton, Alan Spenner, and Bruce Rowland) was a highlight of the production.

Joe's second album Joe Cocker! was recorded shortly after his Woodstock appearance. Two more Beatles covers appeared on this release; Lennon and McCartney's She Came In Through The Bathroom Window and George Harrison's Something. He had a UK hit with Leon Russell's Delta Lady, and began an association with Russell.

Joe Cocker disbanded The Grease Band in late 1969, but contractual obligations forced him back on the road, this time with a aggregation of 30 musicians and singers led by Leon Russell, called Mad Dogs and Englishmen. The group included such notables as Jim Price, Rita Coolidge, Chris Stainton, Kathi McDonald, Carl Radle, and Russell. The tour went on into 1970, the hits kept on coming, including his version of The Letter, once a hit for THE BOXTOPS. The live album of the tour was a major hit for Cocker, but its followup Joe Cocker recorded two years later was a disappointment sales wise. The years between 1970-72 were clouded by personal issues and deteriorating health for Joe. and the following years found some successes in between the highs and lows. In 1974 he had a hit with his version of Billy Preston's You Are So Beautiful, and had an international hit with his duet with Jennifer Warnes in 1982 with the Grammy winning Up Where We Belong from the film An Officer and a Gentleman. The 1980's had more hits, including You Can Leave Your Hat On and Unchain My Heart, as well as more chart successes, mainly in Europe, in the 1990's and into the new millennium.

Today Joe is married to Pam Baker, and lives on The Mad Dog Ranch in Crawford, Colorado. Joe Cocker is currently involved in a a US tour , with dates available on his website.

A few months ago Joe appeared on Tavis Smiley on PBS, and was asked about his stage mannerisms (which he has since toned down). He explained that he was so into Ray Charles as a young man that he would try to mimic him....but he didn't know what to do with his hands, so he began playing his "invisible bass" and started to flay his arms around like a windmill.

Consider the mystery solved.

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