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The Three Things for Which I’ll Remember Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker, the best overwrought raspy-voiced singer in the world, died today at the age of 70 after a fight with small cell lung cancer. He’d been living in Colorado where he liked to fly-fish, walk with his dogs and play snooker with his mates. He apparently also really loved growing tomatoes in his greenhouse.

Even though Joe released 40 albums over about 50 years, I’ll remember him for these three things:

1. His cover of the Beatles “With a Little Help From My Friends.” This was one of the highlights of Woodstock in 1969 and the song that elevated him from being a pub singer in Sheffield to a worldwide star.

2. The finale to The Simpsons’ episode entitled “A Homer and a Gentleman.” I’d post a clip but they all seem to be geo-blocked to Canada, so we’ll just go with the finale from An Officer and a Gentleman. The duet with Jennifer Warnes as a #1 hit, a Grammy winner and an Academy Aware winner in 1983. This song, along with Joe’s “You Are So Beautiful,” have become staples at weddings.


3. John Belushi’s scary-accurate portrayal of Joe on Saturday Night Live. Joe never took offence–and then outlived John by 32 years.

4. Bonus:  Kim Bassinger.

Joe was performing up until last  year and even had a #1 album in Germany.  Billboard has assembled this list of all this hits.  They’ve also done a good job summarizing his career here and here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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2 thoughts on “The Three Things for Which I’ll Remember Joe Cocker

  • His cover of “Talking Back to the Night” on the album “Sheffield Steel” knocks the socks of the original Steve Winwood version

  • Alan, What is the Cocker and Detroit connection? Why do I think he has a connection there?


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