Singer and rock/blues icon Joe Cocker, most famous for his indelible rendition of the Beatles tune “With A Little Help From My Friends,” is dead today at the age of 70. As was reported by itv news, Cocker succumbed today to complications from a battle with lung cancer. In tribute, we’ve included a Spotify playlist of some of Cocker’s best loved tracks at the end of this article.
An official statement for the Sheffield-born artist was released by Sony Music shortly after his passing.
“John Robert Cocker, known to family, friends, his community of fans around the world as Joe Cocker, passed away on December 22, 2014 after a hard fought battle with small cell lung cancer. Mr. Cocker was 70 years old.
Joe Cocker was born 5/20/1944 in Sheffield, England where he lived until his early 20’s. In 2007 he was awarded the OBE by the Queen of England.
His International success as a blues/rock singer began in 1965 and continues till this day. Joe created nearly 40 albums and toured extensively around the globe.”
Cocker grew up idolizing Ray Charles and other blues singers in his early career, which helped him create his famously gritty voice, and vivacious stage presence. Born into a blue collar family in South Yorkshire, England, Cocker studied as a gas-fitter while working towards a career in music. According to his Rolling Stone bio, Cocker’s first band Vance Arnold and the Avengers toured locally with the Hollies and the Rolling Stones in 1961.
By 1964 Cocker was offered a contract by Decca records and took a 6-month leave from the gas-fitting job to focus on music, but his first efforts were unsuccessful and he returned to the job, according to Rolling Stone. In 1968 Cocker recorded the album that would help define his future with his new band, the Grease Band, along with legends Jimmy Page and Steve Winwood. The album’s title track “With A Little Help From My Friends” from the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album would help pave the way for the rest of Cocker’s career.
Cocker then began in earnest a 40-year+ musical journey that saw him take the stage in multiple high-profile venues in the UK, the U.S., and elsewhere abroad — including a stop at Woodstock in 1969, a duet with John Belushi on Saturday Night Live in 1976, and myriad other memorable performances.
Along with his famous Beatles cover, Cocker is also best remembered for his 1975 rendition of “You Are So Beautiful,” and his version of Leon Russell’s “Delta Lady,” each touched by his powerful voice and emotionally stirring performances.
Cocker is survived by his wife Pam, brother Victor, his step-daugher Zoey Schroeder, and two grandchildren Eva and Simon Schroeder.