No more roar from the Sheffield Lion: the great Joe Cocker died on Monday, December 22nd, at the age of 70. One of the most recognizable – both in sight and sound – British soul and rhythm-and-blues performers, his main forte has been that of interpreter of other people’s songs. It was with THE BEATLES’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” that Joe etched itself in the memory of Woodstock watchers, and The Fabs voiced their admiration of Cocker’s talent even before the legendary festival. It was him who elevated the message of TRAFFIC’s “Feelin’ Alright” to the optimistic heights and pulled Elton John’s “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” to the depth of utter desperation, in all the cases surpassing the original mood. Much more than just a singer, he lived the song.
It takes some remembrance to recall that John Miles, not Joe Cocker, wrote “Now That The Magic Has Gone” or that “Unchain My Heart” came to prominence in Ray Charles’ version which – no mean feat – Joe Cocker’s take easily eclipsed. It was an honor to play with Joe, and among those who did were the trio of YARDBIRDS axemen Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, KING CRIMSON’s Adrian Belew and Mel Collins, PROCOL HARUM‘s own Matthew Fisher and BJ Wilson, Aldo Nova and Bryan Adams, the recently departed Ian McLagan and Jeff Lynne, who wrote “Night Calls” for Cocker, Steve Lukather and Jerry Goodman… Such was Joe’s magnetism. And now the magic has really gone. Rest in peace, JC.