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Joe Cocker – With a Little Help From my friends

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Joe_Cocker

John Robert “Joe” Cocker, OBE (20 May 1944 – 22 December 2014) was an English rock/blues musician, composer and actor who came to popularity in the 1960s, and was most known for his gritty voice, his idiosyncratic arm movements while performing, and his cover versions of popular songs, particularly those of The Beatles. He received several awards, including a 1983 Grammy Award for his song “Up Where We Belong”, a duet which he performed with Jennifer Warnes. He was ranked No. 97 on Rolling Stone ’​s 100 greatest singers list.


 

Woodstock: Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends
Joe Cocker version

 

 


 

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
English singer Joe Cocker’s version of “With a Little Help from My Friends” was a radical re-arrangement of the original, in a slower, 6/8 meter, using different chords in the middle eight, and a lengthy instrumental introduction (featuring drums by Procol Harum’s B.J. Wilson, guitar lines from Jimmy Page, and organ by Tommy Eyre). Cocker performed the song at Woodstock in 1969 and that performance was included in the documentary film, Woodstock. This version was used as the opening theme song for the television series The Wonder Years. Cocker’s cover was ranked number two in UpVenue’s top 10 best music covers of all time in 2009. In 2014, a BBC poll saw it voted the seventh best cover version ever. The version heard in the film Across the Universe segues from the original to Cocker’s arrangement at the end of the song. In 2001, Cocker’s version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Early life

Cocker was born on 20 May 1944 at 38 Tasker Road, Crookes, Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He was the youngest son of a civil servant, Harold Cocker, and Madge Cocker, née Lee.According to differing family stories, Cocker received his nickname of Joe either from playing a childhood game called “Cowboy Joe”, or from a local window cleaner named Joe.

Cocker’s main musical influences growing up were Ray Charles and Lonnie Donegan. Cocker’s first experience singing in public was at age 12 when his elder brother Victor invited him on stage to sing during a gig of his skiffle group. In 1960, along with three friends, Cocker formed his first group, the Cavaliers. For the group’s first performance at a youth club, they were required to pay the price of admission before entering. The Cavaliers eventually broke up after a year and Cocker left school to become an apprentice gasfitter while simultaneously pursuing a career in music.

Cocker was not related to fellow Sheffield-born musician Jarvis Cocker, despite a rumour to this effect (particularly in Australia, where Jarvis Cocker’s father, the radio presenter Mac Cocker, allowed listeners to believe that he was Cocker’s brother).
Early career (1961–66)

In 1961, under the stage name Vance Arnold, Cocker continued his career with a new group, Vance Arnold and the Avengers. The name was a combination of Vince Everett, Elvis Presley’s character in Jailhouse Rock (which Cocker misheard as Vance); and country singer Eddy Arnold. The group mostly played in the pubs of Sheffield,[8] performing covers of Chuck Berry and Ray Charles songs. Cocker developed an interest in blues music and sought out recordings by John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Howlin’ Wolf.[10] In 1963, they booked their first significant gig when they supported the Rolling Stones at Sheffield City Hall.[11] In 1964, Cocker signed a recording contract as a solo act with Decca and released his first single, a cover of the Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead” (with Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page playing guitars). Despite extensive promotion from Decca lauding his youth and working class roots, the record was a flop and his recording contract with Decca lapsed at the end of 1964. After Cocker recorded the single, he dropped his stage name and formed a new group, Joe Cocker’s Big Blues. There is only one known recording of Joe Cocker’s Big Blues on an EP given out by The Sheffield College during Rag Week and called Rag Goes Mad at the Mojo.
Life and career
Early life

Cocker was born on 20 May 1944 at 38 Tasker Road, Crookes, Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He was the youngest son of a civil servant, Harold Cocker, and Madge Cocker, née Lee.[4] According to differing family stories, Cocker received his nickname of Joe either from playing a childhood game called “Cowboy Joe”, or from a local window cleaner named Joe.

Cocker’s main musical influences growing up were Ray Charles and Lonnie Donegan. Cocker’s first experience singing in public was at age 12 when his elder brother Victor invited him on stage to sing during a gig of his skiffle group. In 1960, along with three friends, Cocker formed his first group, the Cavaliers. For the group’s first performance at a youth club, they were required to pay the price of admission before entering. The Cavaliers eventually broke up after a year and Cocker left school to become an apprentice gasfitter while simultaneously pursuing a career in music.

Cocker was not related to fellow Sheffield-born musician Jarvis Cocker, despite a rumour to this effect (particularly in Australia, where Jarvis Cocker’s father, the radio presenter Mac Cocker, allowed listeners to believe that he was Cocker’s brother).
Early career (1961–66)

In 1961, under the stage name Vance Arnold, Cocker continued his career with a new group, Vance Arnold and the Avengers. The name was a combination of Vince Everett, Elvis Presley’s character in Jailhouse Rock (which Cocker misheard as Vance); and country singer Eddy Arnold. The group mostly played in the pubs of Sheffield, performing covers of Chuck Berry and Ray Charles songs. Cocker developed an interest in blues music and sought out recordings by John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Howlin’ Wolf. In 1963, they booked their first significant gig when they supported the Rolling Stones at Sheffield City Hall. In 1964, Cocker signed a recording contract as a solo act with Decca and released his first single, a cover of the Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead” (with Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page playing guitars). Despite extensive promotion from Decca lauding his youth and working class roots, the record was a flop and his recording contract with Decca lapsed at the end of 1964. After Cocker recorded the single, he dropped his stage name and formed a new group, Joe Cocker’s Big Blues. There is only one known recording of Joe Cocker’s Big Blues on an EP given out by The Sheffield College during Rag Week and called Rag Goes Mad at the Mojo.
The Grease Band (1966–1969)

In 1966, after a year-long hiatus from music, Cocker teamed up with Chris Stainton, whom he had met several years before, to form the Grease Band.[8] The Grease Band was named after Cocker read an interview with jazz musician Jimmy Smith, where Smith described another musician as “having a lot of grease.” Like the Avengers, Cocker’s group mostly played in pubs in and around Sheffield. The Grease Band came to the attention of Denny Cordell, the producer of Procol Harum, the Moody Blues and Georgie Fame. Cocker recorded the single “Marjorine” without the Grease Band for Cordell in a London studio. He then moved to London with Chris Stainton, and the Grease Band was dissolved. Cordell set Cocker up with a residency at the Marquee Club in London, and a “new” Grease Band was formed with Stainton and keyboardist Tommy Eyre.

“He [Cocker] was a lovely northern lad who I loved a lot and, like many people, I loved his singing. I was especially pleased when he decided to cover “With a Little Help from My Friends” and I remember him and (producer) Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Savile Row and playing me what they’d recorded and it was just mind-blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful to him for doing that.”
—Paul McCartney on Joe Cocker and hearing his cover for the first time.

After minor success in the United States with the single “Marjorine”, Cocker entered the big time with a groundbreaking rearrangement of “With a Little Help from My Friends”, another Beatles cover, which, many years later, was used as the opening theme for The Wonder Years. The recording features lead guitar from Jimmy Page, drumming by B. J. Wilson, backing vocals from Sue and Sunny, and Tommy Eyre on organ. The single made the Top Ten on the British charts, remaining there for thirteen weeks and eventually reaching number one, on 9 November 1968. It also reached number 68 on the US charts.

The new touring line-up of Cocker’s Grease Band featured Henry McCullough on lead guitar, who would go on to briefly play with McCartney’s Wings. After touring the UK with the Who in autumn 1968 and Gene Pitney and Marmalade in early winter 1969, the Grease Band embarked on their first tour of the United States in spring 1969. Cocker’s album With a Little Help from My Friends was released soon after their arrival and made number 35 on the American charts, eventually going gold.

Joe Cocker at Woodstock (1969)

During his United States tour, Cocker played at several large festivals, including the Newport Rock Festival and the Denver Pop Festival. In August, Denny Cordell heard about the planned concert in Woodstock, New York and convinced organiser Artie Kornfeld to book Cocker and the Grease Band for the Woodstock Festival. The group had to be flown into the festival by helicopter due to the large crowds. They performed several songs, including “Delta Lady”, “Something’s Comin’ On”, “Let’s Go Get Stoned”, “I Shall Be Released”, and “With a Little Help from My Friends”. Cocker would later say that the experience was “like an eclipse … it was a very special day.”

Directly after Woodstock, Cocker released his second album, Joe Cocker!. Impressed by his cover of “With a Little Help from My Friends”, Paul McCartney and George Harrison allowed Cocker to use their songs “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” and “Something” for the album. Recorded during a break in touring in the spring and summer, the album reached number 11 on the US charts and garnered a second UK hit with the Leon Russell song, “Delta Lady”.

In August 1969, Cocker performed at the Isle of Wight Festival at Wootton Bridge, Isle of Wight, England. Throughout 1969 he was featured on variety TV shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and This Is Tom Jones. Onstage, he exhibited an idiosyncratic physical intensity, flailing his arms and playing air guitar. At the end of the year Cocker was unwilling to embark on another US tour, so he dissolved the Grease Band.

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