Beloved soul and blues singer, Joe Cocker, has passed away at age 70.
Best remembered for his renditions of “You Are So Beautiful”, “With a Little Help From My Friends”, and his duet with Jennifer Warnes “Up Where We Belong”, the theme song for the Academy Award Winning movie, An Officer and a Gentleman, died from a battle with lung cancer.
According to BBC News, Cocker’s agent, Barrie Marshall confirmed that he had confirmed Cocker’s passing in a statement saying,
“It is with heaviest of hearts we heard that our beloved Joe Cocker passed away last night. He was without doubt the greatest rock/soul voice ever to come out of Britain – and remained the same man throughout his life. Hugely talented – a true star – but a kind and humble man who loved to perform. Anyone who ever saw him live will never forget him. Last year he broke all his own records in Arenas across Europe with a number one album in Germany and a final concert in Hammersmith in June. Chris Evans had championed his record and he was able to touch the UK again with a great concert. If it was to be his last tour, he left at the very pinnacle of his talent.”
ITV posted an official statement from Sony Music:
“John Robert Cocker, known to family, friends, his community and fans around the world as Joe Cocker, passed away on December 22, 2014 after a hard fought battle with small cell lung cancer. Mr Cocker was 70 years old.
Joe Cocker was born 5/20/1944 in Sheffield, England where he lived until his early 20s. In 2007 he was awarded the OBE by the Queen of England.
His international success as a blues/rock singer began in 1964 and continues till this day. Joe created nearly 40 albums and toured extensively around the globe.”
The statement added that Mr. Cocker is survived by wife Pam, of Crawford; his brother Victor of Norfolk, England; his step-daughter, Zoey Schroeder and two grandchildren, Eva & Simon Schroeder.
Mirror stated that many artists including Sir Paul McCartney was touched by the news of his passing saying,
“It’s really sad to hear about Joe’s passing. He 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 Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Saville 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 for him for doing that”.
Known for his almost incoherent at times yet beautifully raspy singing voice, he was probably just as famous for his erratic body movements and facial expressions when he sang live. With his eyes closed, Cocker would reach down into the pit of his soul to feel and reach every note that came out of his being.
In 1975, the legendary comedian John Belushi did a spot-on impersonation of his stage show on Saturday Night Live, that became one of Belushi’s trademark impressions and eventually led to the two of them performing “Feelin’ Alright” side by side on SNL the following year.
Cocker first reached huge success in 1968, hitting number one with his cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends”, which 20 years later became the ever popular theme song for the hit TV show, Wonder Years.
Besides playing at the historical Woodstock Festival, Cocker has won a Grammy and an Oscar, has performed with the likes of Ray Charles, and was listed in the Rolling Stone “100 greatest singers of all time”.
You can find the video’s for “With a Little Help From My Friends”, “You Are So Beautiful”, and John Belushi’s SNL performance below.