Original group was The Grease Band. Has
survived a hazy period to remain popular on both sides of the Atlantic
and is well known for hits "With A Little Help From My Friends"
and the duet with Jennifer Warnes - "Up Where We Belong".
Joe Cocker is one of rock and roll's enduring
performers who has survived the sixties, a low period in the seventies,
made a comeback in the eighties, and continues to be a solid and consistent
performer in the nineties. His gutsy, gravelly, vocal style and unique
stage presence make him one of the most dynamic singers in the music
He started out in Sheffield, England in the mid sixties, working as
gas plumber by day and performing in the clubs of the area by night.
After hooking up with another "Sheffielder," Chris Stainton,
they recorded "Marjorine" - a minor success in the U.K. Shortly
thereafter, they recorded "With a Little Help From My Friends,"
produced by Denny Cordell of A&M Records. This album featured guest
performers Jimmy Page, Steve Winwood and Matthew Fischer. It quickly
took off and received airplay on both sides of the Atlantic. The title
track on the album is arguably Cocker's best, it became a major highlight
of the Woodstock Festival in 1969, and surpasses the original recording
by the Beatles.
After two years of constant touring, Cocker was ready for a break and
wanted to go home. This, however, was not to be the case. He had made
commitments to appear in concerts throughout the states and the U.S.
Immigration Department said the contracts must be honored or he was
in danger of never being able to work again in America.
With some help from Leon Russell, a motley group of talented musicians
was quickly formed to fulfill the promised concert dates. The "Mad
Dogs and Englishmen" tour produced an album and a movie detailing
the zaniness and the circus-like atmosphere of the forty three person
entourage. They whipped through thirty nine cities in a little less
than two months. After this endeavour, Cocker was physically exhausted,
emotionally drained, and in trouble legally and financially. He went
into seclusion, travelling in his van around England, making an attempt
to find himself again.
There was a period of about four years where he didn't record at all.
Instead, he toured constantly, playing mostly small clubs to pay the
bills and to satisfy his need to perform.
Joe then left A&M to record an album for Asylum Records and his
career was once again on the upswing. "A Luxury You Can Afford"
had some great tunes on it - "Watch the River Flow," "Fun
Time," and a marvelous cover of "Heard It Through the Grapevine."
The following release "Sheffield Steel," showcased Cocker
at his very best. The album is so well rounded, covering everything
from get-down rock and roll to soul-searing gospel. The most notable
cuts on this one are: "Many Rivers to Cross," "Seven
Days," "Sweet Little Woman," and "Just Like Always."
The later releases from Joe Cocker include: "Civilized Man,"
"Cocker Live," "Unchain My Heart," "One Night
of Sin," and "Have a Little Faith".