top of page

Joe Cocker

Today we will tell you about the singer Joe Cocker known for his gritty, bluesy, and powerful voice.

(Photo: John Macpherson)

1. He was born on 20 May 1944 in Sheffield England. His name at birth was John Robert "Joe" Cocker.

2. He formed his first band in 1959 when he was only 14. They were called "The Cavaliers" and he played drums and harmonica.

3. His first live show, this time already as a singer, was at the age of 15, with a local band called "The Avengers", then he already took on the stage name Vance Arnold.

4. In 1963 "Vance Arnold and the Avengers" were already the opening act for none other than "The Rolling Stones".

5. That same year he joined a local blues band called "The Big Blues". Three years later he retired from the band in favor of "The Grease Band".

6. His first commercially successful hit was the cover version of The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends", which was released in 1969 as part of his debut album of the same name.

7. The one who played the guitar in the song was none other than Jimmy Page.

8. Not many know, but this was not the first "Beatles" song that Cocker covered. The first song of "The Fab Four" he covered was "I'll Cry Instead", which Cocker released in 1964. Jimmy Page played on this song too. He was then nicknamed "Little Jim".

9. Later, Cocker will release additional cover versions of "The Beatles" songs, including "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," which he released even before "The Beatles".

10. Already in the same year his first solo album was released, Cocker participated in the "Woodstock" festival.

11. Cocker also opened the Saturday show of the 1994 Woodstock Festival and was among the only artists to perform both there and at the original festival.

12. At the end of 1969, Cocker went on a tour in the United States, accompanied by a large band that included about 30 musicians, among them: Leon Russell and Rita Coolidge. This tour will produce the excellent live album "Mad Dogs & Englishmen".

13. Cocker's live performances were extroverted and full of spasms all over his body. He's probably one of the first in music to use "Air Guitar" as part of the show. He noted that it helped him feel the music.

(Photo: Carl Lender)

14. His addiction to drugs and alcohol began already at the end of the 1960s. The combination of these two with massive cigarette smoking affected his already rough voice, but also his musical career, which suffered cancellations.

15. Joe Cocker struggled with addictions with the help of his second wife. He managed to make a big comeback to the stages and the global music market in the early 80s.

16. One of his big hits after his return was "Up Where We Belong", which he performed together with the American singer Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman".

17. This is the best-selling song that even won him an Oscar under the category of "Best Theme Song of a Movie".

18. This was not the only soundtrack to which Cocker contributed songs. One of the other famous movies was "9½ Weeks" for which Cocker contributed the hit "You Can Leave Your Hat On."

19. Most of Cocker's big hits are actually cover versions of other artists. Among them: "Unchain My Heart" by Ray Charles, "You Can Leave Your Hat On" by Randy Newman, "You Are So Beautiful" by Billy Preston, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by "The Beasts", "The Letter" by "Box Tops"," Feelin' Alright" by "Traffic" and of course "With A Little Help From My Friends" by "The Beatles".

20. In 2007 he was awarded the title of Officer of the British Order for his contribution to music.

21. He is one of the artists who appeared before both the Queen of England and the President of the United States. In 1989 he appeared before President George H. W. Bush at the coronation of his second term, and in 2002 at Buckingham Palace on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, with Phil Collins on drums and Brian May on guitar.

22. He is on the list of the 100 greatest singers of all time by "Rolling Stone" magazine.

23. Joe Cocker has performed several times in Israel, most recently at the "Gilboa Festival" in August 2008.

24. During his musical career, Cocker has released over 40 albums, including 22 studio albums.

25. Cocker passed away on December 22, 2014, after a long battle with lung cancer.

Follow us on Facebook or Subscribe to our website

"Face/Off" - Israel's Rock Blog & Podcast


Enjoying the Blog? Subscribe to get it right to your mail!

Thank you !!

bottom of page