Joe Cocker's career has enjoyed more ups and downs than a roller coaster, but beneath everything is the simple fact that he is one of the finest white soul singers in the history of popular music. After failing to make much of an impact as a pop singer in the early 60s as Vance Arnold, he returned later on with a new backing group (The Grease Band) and a style based on soul and gritty R&B. After securing a big live following, Cocker signed a major label recording contract and after a few failed singles, including a cover of The Beatles' I'll Cry Instead, he scored big with a definitive cover version of The Beatles' With A Little Help From My Friends in 1968. Completely transforming a jokey song into a vocal tour de force, Cocker turned heads and reinvented himself as a counter culture superstar. This was backed up by his appearance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival and his lengthy Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour. The latter drained Cocker financially and emotionally, and he spent the best part of the 70s attempting to get his life back on track. He revived his career in the early 80s with a smash hit duet with Jennifer Warnes on the schmaltzy Up Where We Belong, which benefited from its use on the soundtrack to the hit movie An Officer And A Gentleman. While his later material has frequently lacked inspiration, Cocker retains the ability to invest a song with a passion and soul lacking in most other white singers.
Followers: Bryan Adams, Michael Bolton, Ray LaMontagne, Paolo Nutini, Dennis Wilson
Influenced By: Ray Charles, Lonnie Donegan, Elvis Presley, The Beatles...