Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer at age 70

Like so many other people, I was saddened to get the news last night about soulful British singer Joe Cocker, who died of lung cancer. I grew up listening to Cocker’s gravelly, sexy, and unique sound. In recent years, Cocker and his wife, Pam, had been living in Crawford, Colorado, where they had started the Cocker Kids’ Foundation, a local charity in support of the youth in their adopted community. I am sure the people of Crawford will remember Joe Cocker for his generosity, aside from his memorable music.

Joe Cocker’s awesome cover of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends”.

Though I wasn’t around when Cocker got his start in the music business, my generation will always remember Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends”. It was the theme song for the hit 80s era show, The Wonder Years. Of course, children of the 80s will also remember Cocker’s beautiful duet with Jennifer Warnes for the blockbuster film, An Officer and A Gentleman. I have to admit, that film is one of my all time favorites and so is “Up Where We Belong”.

This is such a beautiful love song and Cocker’s gruff vocals are such an interesting contrast to Warnes’ silky smooth soprano.

When I was in college, I had a roommate who used to play one of Cocker’s live albums all the time. I became more familiar with his music and realized that performing live, he must have been an incredible sight to see. Speaking of live performances, here’s a somewhat recent one with Cocker singing his 1974 hit, “You Are So Beautiful.” Lots of women and probably more than a few men swooned to this one.

I find myself getting a little choked up over this right now. If there’s one thing Joe Cocker did well, it was conveying emotion in his music.

Want to rock a little? In 1970, Joe Cocker famously covered “The Letter”, a song originally made popular in 1967 by The Box Tops, and made it his own.

Remember when people actually wrote letters instead of emails? I kind of miss those days.

And then there was the downright bluesy, sexy, sax infused “You Can Leave Your Hat On”…

Take it off… take it all off. But you can leave your hat on.

The bluesy trend was also in Cocker’s version of Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright”.

“Feelin’ Alright” is another cover song Joe Cocker made his own.

And who can resist the suggestive sexiness of Cocker’s cover of The Beatles’ “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”?

Here’s a video from 1970 featuring Leon Russell.

Joe Cocker had an amazing career and will always be remembered for his gritty, distinctive vocals, his incredible energy, and his indelible original musical stamp on songs that were written by other people. The world of rock and roll has lost a true legend and the people of Crawford, Colorado have lost a good, and according to news reports, surprisingly down-to-earth and regular citizen. May Joe Cocker rest in peace and may peace be with his family.