John Robert "Joe" Cocker OBE (born 20 May 1944 in Crookes, Sheffield) is an English rock/blues singer who came to popularity in the 1960s, and is most known for his gritty voice and his cover versions of popular songs, particularly those of The Beatles. He is the recipient of several awards, including a 1983 Grammy Award for his song "Up Where We Belong", a duet which he performed with Jennifer Warnes. He is the youngest son of a civil servant, Harold Cocker, and Madge Cocker. According to different family stories, Cocker received his nickname of Joe either from playing a childhood game called "Cowboy Joe" or from a neighborhood window cleaner named Joe.
1964 Cocker signed a recording contract as a solo act with Decca Records and released his first single, a cover of The Beatles' "I'll Cry Instead" with Jimmy Page playing backup guitar. Despite extensive promotion from Decca lauding his youth and working class roots, the record was a flop and his recording contract with Decca lapsed at the end of 1964. After Cocker recorded the single, he dropped his stage name and formed a new band, Joe Cocker's Big Blues. The band toured in France, where they played on American air bases and Cocker gained the nickname of "Le Petit Ray Charles". Although the band appeared on the ITV variety show Star and Garters, they were unable to secure enough bookings and had to disband due to lack of funds.
Minus the Grease Band, Cocker recorded a single for Cordell in a London studio, "Marjorine". He then moved to London with Chris Stainton and the Grease Band was dissolved. Cordell set Cocker up with a residency at The Marquee Club in London and a "new" Grease Band was formed with keyboardist Tommy Eyre and Chris Stainton. After minor success in the U.S. With the single "Marjorine", he entered the big time with a groundbreaking rearrangement of "With a Little Help from My Friends", another Beatles cover. The single made the Top Ten on the British charts, remained there for thirteen weeks and eventually reached number one on 9 November 1968. It also reached number 68 on the US charts.
Impressed by his cover of "With A Little Help From my Friends", Paul McCartney and George Harrison allowed Cocker to use their songs "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" and "Something" for the album. Recorded during a break in touring in the spring and summer, the album reached number 11 on the US charts and garnered a second UK hit with the Leon Russell song, "Delta Lady".
In end of 1973, Cocker returned to the studio to record a new album, I Can Stand A Little Rain. The album, released in August 1974, was number 11 on the US charts and one single, a cover of Billy Preston's You Are So Beautiful, reached the number 5 slot. Despite positive reviews for the album, Cocker struggled with live performances, largely due to his problems with alcohol. In January 1975, he released a second album that had been recorded at the same time as I Can Stand a Little Rain, Jamaica Say You Will.
In 1982, at the behest of producer Stewart Levine, Cocker recorded the duet "Up Where We Belong" with Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman. The song was an international hit, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and winning a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo. The duet also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song while Cocker and Warnes performed the song at the awards ceremony.
His next album Cocker was dedicated to his mother, Madge, who died when he was recording in the studio. A track from the album, You Can Leave Your Hat On was featured in the 1986 film 9½ Weeks. The album eventually went Platinum on the European charts. His 1987 album Unchain My Heart was nominated for a Grammy Award, although it did not win. One Night of Sin was also a commercial success, surpassing Unchain My Heart in sales. Throughout the 1980s, Cocker continued to tour around the world, playing to large audiences in Europe, Australia and the United States.
Throughout the 1980s, Cocker continued to tour around the world, playing to large audiences in Europe, Australia and the United States. In 1988, he performed at Royal Albert Hall and appeared on The Tonight Show. He also performed for President George H. W. Bush at an inauguration concert in February 1989. In 1992, his version of Bryan Adams' "Feels Like Forever" made the UK Top 40. [wikipedia]