Joe Cocker OBE

Joe Cocker OBE

Joe Cocker OBE

May 20, 1944 — December 22, 2014

John Robert Joe Cocker OBE

Joe Cocker OBE

Not a singer-songwriter

At a time when the singer-songwriter was prominent, especially among the performers preferred by music fana of so-called underground music Joe Cocker was not a singer-songwriter.

Joe Cocker was an interpreter of that music like no other.

Joe Cocker OBE

Beatles at Woodstock

Everyone knows (and many have a theory) why the Beatles were not at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Most of those theories seem to forget that the Beatles as a group hadn’t played live for years and were all but disbanded by August 1969.

Be that as it may, the Beatles were present nonetheless. Their creative spirit help lead to large outdoor rock festivals and their music was there more than any other group that also wasn’t there.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash had sung “Blackbird.” Richie Havens had done “Strawberry Fields Forever” and had also sung “With a Little Help from My Friends,” but it was Joe Cocker’s “Friends” that topped all the covers.

Joe Cocker OBE

Golden touch

As I’ve written before in other blog entries, some performers didn’t need Woodstock to be propelled forward (e.g., The Who). Some performers got shot into stardom (e.g., Santana). Some got no push and continued in anonymity (e.g..  Quill).

Joe would likely have made it (as would have Santana), but being in the film and on the triple album was a career catalyst.

Why Joe at Woodstock?

Joyce Mitchell was an assistant to Michael Lang. In a message exchange with her, she mentioned this story.

The only performer I brought to Michael’s attention was Joe Cocker and John signed him up. He was performing in a club on the upper west side and someone I had worked with at my previous job had brought my attention to his great blues performance. I went to the club hoping Michael would join me but he never showed. It was a club on Columbus or Amsterdam Ave. They did not serve liquor, but Joe shook the club up.  

It always amazes me how such a little thing can lead to such a huge difference in someone’s career path.

Joe Cocker OBE

Mad Dogs > Solo

He left the Grease Band that had backed him at Woodstock and the famous Mad Dogs and Englishmen band–an amazing conglomerate of musicians that sometimes included George Harrison–whose concerts were always special.

His career included gold albums and hit singles. Sometimes solo sometimes with someone.

Life in the rock music lane has its many potholes and sometimes hitting a few at full speed provides an artistic jolt. At first, but eventually for most the toll outweighs the inspiration.

Joe Cocker made many comebacks and was still performing (having released 23 albums) when he died in 2014.

Thank you for all your music and those star-spangled shoes, too.

Wikipedia accolades link

Joe Cocker OBE

2 thoughts on “Joe Cocker OBE”

  1. Nice, only a rare few remember those shoes. I posted a picture a while back with Joe sitting on a piano bench on stage at Woodstock prior to his performance (while the Grease band did a couple of instrumental warmups ). And there they were, those blue shoes with white stars.

    I have another question for you I hope you don’t mind me adding it in here. I have heard many people reference the presence of the Hells Angels at Woostock, but I have yet to find a picture or anything else with them in it. Can you help to clarify this issue?

    1. I’ve been part of the docent program at Bethel Woods for three years and have never heard any reference to any Hell’s Angels there in any capacity. I’m sure there were many of that group who were fine upstanding people, but like any group, the few angry members gave the entire group a terrible image.

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