December 22, 2014

Joe Cocker leaves legacy as one of music's best voices


LONDON — Singer and songwriter Joe Cocker has died, according to the BBC.

Cocker’s hits include “You Are So Beautiful” and “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

He was 70-years old.

The British-born crooner died at his home in Colorado.

“It will be impossible to fill the space he leaves in our hearts,” his agent Barrie Marshall told the BBC.

APPRECIATION: Joe Cocker leaves legacy as one of music's best voices

Joe Cocker performs at the Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, N.Y.
FOTOS INTERNATIONAL/GETTY IMAGESJoe Cocker performs at the Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, N.Y.

Cocker rose to fame in the 1960s and recorded 40 albums while touring into his 60s. His rendition of the Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends" at Woodstock is widely considered one of the best live performances ever.

"With A Little Help from My Friends" vaulted to No. 1 and lifted Cocker to stardom. The song later became the theme for the wildly popular television series "The Wonder Years."

He won a Grammy for "Up Where We Belong," a 1982 duet with Jennifer Warnes, which was the theme song for the Richard Gere hit movie "An Officer and a Gentleman." Other Joe Cocker hits include "Feelin' Alright,""You Are So Beautiful" and "Unchain My Heart."

Cocker was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his music achievements.

The Sheffield, England, native had a No. 1 album in Germany last year and performed in concert for the final time in Hammersmith, London, in June, the BBC reported. He had moved to tiny Crawford, Colo., in the early 1990s.

Some of Cocker's friends gathered Monday at Colorado radio station KVNF to play his songs.

Though he came of age musically as a member of the Woodstock generation, Joe Cocker is one of the last of the great rock interpreters. He remains most famous for what he did with others’ words, even in an era that prized songwriting more than singing. And so, any list of top Joe Cocker songs necessarily includes tunes written by others.
But Cocker chose well — there are catalog items here from the Beatles, Ray Charles, Billy Preston, the Animals and Traffic, among others — and then he often had the guts to radically rework them. Add in his famous gravel-gargling vocals, not to mention a few foot-stampingly loose jams from a series of ace sidemen, and Joe Cocker’s audacious updates often actually superseded even the celebrated originals.


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