Joe Cocker had a music career that lasted for over 50 years. The Sheffield born singer died from lung cancer on 22nd December 2014. Cocker had a unique gravel edged voice and he most definitely had more than his fair share of life’s ups and downs.
After working in a variety of bands, supporting Manfred Mann and working the pubs an clubs circuit Cocker got his first big break with a cover of the Beatles ‘With a little help from my friends’. A public endorsement from the Beatles didn’t hurt and the single topped the charts. Cocker played the Woodstock Festival in the USA in 1969. His performance helped him to break the lucrative American market where he scored a hit with another Beatles tune ‘She Came in through the bathroom window. A U.S. tour lead to an acclaimed live album but left Cocker with crippling bills.
As a result Cocker lapsed into a long period of addiction to drink and heroin and he did not reappear until 1972 when he was often so drunk he was incapable of performing. his problems continued throughout the 1970’s and although he released a succession of inconsistent albums it wasn’t until 1982 when he got another big break. His duet with Jennifer Warnes ‘Up where we belong’ was a huge hit and won multiple awards as well as featuring in the huge movie hit ‘An officer and a gentleman’. Cocker also released arguably his best album ‘Sheffield Steel’.
Since 1982 Cocker released a string of successful albums and played at a variety of high profile events including Nelson mandala’s 70th birthday tribute and the party at the place for the Queens Golden Jubilee. Cocker will be fondly remembered for the power of his vocal performances and for having the character to recover from his years of addiction.
He will be missed.