arts / Blues / music / rock

Joe Cocker RIP

From my memoir on the website (written in 2001):

People look wide-eyed when I reminisce about what Bob Dylan or Miles Davis or Jim Morrison or Phil Ochs might have said to me, but the real memories I treasure are the walking wounded who are still going — if not strong, then soldiering on. People like Joe Cocker, who proved to me that white men can sing the blues if their roots are in the steel mill, the aforesaid Bruce Dunnet, who refused to manage the Rolling Stones and wouldn’t book Paul Simon for a fiver, no longer managing acts but still hoping the revolution comes before closing time, John Hasted, the atomic scientist who turned his University College lab into a songwriters’ workshop, the man I used to dictate my songs to over the phone, and I did it just before the retired prof died, during the bombing of Yugoslavia, about Milica, an injured schoolchild in Serbia.

Walking wounded: the words came into my head when I was talking to Cocker, at some sort of half-arsed commemoration of Woodstock, staged in a half-empty aircraft hangar somewhere in the Lowlands of Holland, I forget exactly where, probably in ’79 or so, the sort of commercialised cash-in rip-off that all too often (thank you, Lord!) collapses into disaster. As did, indeed, Woodstock itself, despite the myth.

Talking to Cocker was like space communication in 2001 Space Odyssey: “Hello Mission Control, do you copy?” [Long pause] “Yes, we read you, Discovery. Go ahead.”

And then he got on stage and was transformed. With a Little Help From My Friends transmuted into a work of power and majesty, the way he’d done it so often before.

Coming soon: The book

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JoeCocker – a spirit that will never die

Pause Soundcloud audio (above) and play the concert video (below). For some reason all the Youtube clips end before the several reprises, which to me are the best bits. I’ll be posting some reminiscences, and of our first and only meeting, later. Continue reading

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