Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mojo ... Or, Perhaps More Accurately ... Mo' Joe!

re:  Remembering Joe Cocker:   
Billy Joel got a few of us buzzing a few months ago when he mentioned Joe Cocker from the stage during one of his many sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden.  Joel referred to Cocker as "not very well right now" and soon several of us started asking, "What have you heard about Joe Cocker?  Have you heard anything about Joe's health?  Billy Joel just said he wasn't very well."  Even a quick Google Search turned up nothing so it was quickly dismissed and forgotten.  

As such, the news of Joe's death on Monday was still a bit unsettling. 
Several of his long-time friends and musical comrades came forward with statements, offering praise, tributes and accolades for this one-of-a-kind performer:   

Goodbye and God bless to Joe Cocker from one of his friends, 
Peace and love,
Ringo Starr    

It’s really sad to hear about Joe’s passing. He was a lovely northern lad who I loved a lot and like many people I loved his singing. I was especially pleased when he decided to cover ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ and I remember him and Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Saville Row and playing me what they’d recorded and it was just mind blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful for him for doing that. I knew him through the years as a good mate and I was so sad to hear that he had been ill.  He was a great guy, a lovely guy who brought so much to the world and we’ll all miss him.  
Paul McCartney     

This is sad news indeed. What a unique and great musician he was. Everything was from his heart. 
Graham Nash     

The cutting edge of Sheffield steel will be missed. Rest in peace to Joe Cocker, one of the greatest voices England ever produced.  
Eric Burdon    

Sad to hear Joe Cocker has passed away. Our prayers go out to his family.  
Gene Simmons     

Although I haven’t really caught up with him over the years, the 10th Anniversary Woodstock Reunion Tour (Europe ’79) we did together will remain one of the most memorable tours I ever did. Joe was the featured artist, and he deserved to be. He brought down the house every night. I believe it was because he was willing to be so vulnerable and real ... there were no games. He just sang his heart out. And we all loved him for it. What a loss.  
Arlo Guthrie     

He was a really good guy and of course a great, great artist.  
Randy Newman  

So sad to hear of Joe Cocker's passing. "You Are So Beautiful" is both Joe and Nicky Hopkins piano at their very best. Gonna play it now RIP.
Peter Frampton    

Joe Cocker has died. RIP my good friend, you were one of the best rock singers EVER.   
Bryan Adams 


Goodbye to Joe Cocker. There was never anyone like him, and there never will be again. The one of the Sounds of an Era passes. 
Bette Midler 

And from some of our readers as well ...   

Very nice tribute Kent.  
When the "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour came to Rochester around 1970 it amazed me as it was so unusual -- almost like a variety show with one grouping of artists after another with Joe featured in many, but not all, of the songs. It was also the first time that I saw Claudia Lennear and Rita Coolidge and I kinda' fell in love with both of them! Along with Leon Russell, another "Mad Dog" was Don Preston, who had been playing with Leon since 1960 and is a guitar legend in his own right. Don would become part of our   family when my son married his step-daughter in 2002.  
Small world! 
Danny G.  
PS -- Don has played with everyone from Ritchie Valens to Ricky Nelson to Freddie King to George Harrison -- quite a history of rock story on his own.  

"Ain't it high time we went." I love Joe Cocker - his passion, his energy, his earthy soul. Quite frankly - and this goes back four decades - it broke my heart the night Joe appeared on SNL as a tag team
partner to John Belushi. Yes, I laughed like hell at the way John mimicked Joe, but I couldn't help but feel that he was really going out of way to make Cocker look stupid.
Joe Cocker, there was nobody like him. In some regards, at least to me, he was something of a white Otis Redding. I would have killed to hear Joe, in his prime, sing "I've Been Lovin' You Too Long" or "These Arms of Mine." I often wondered what kind of magic Joe might have produced if he had hooked up with Booker T., Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper.
Sadly, we'll never know.  

R.I.P. #MusicalGenius
Chet Coppock
Host: Notre Dame Football,. WLS
Host: Chicago Blackhawks Heritage Series  

JOE COCKER, the incomparable Sheffield, English born blues rocker passed at the age of 70 today. COCKER long admired CHARLIE GRACIE and attended his UK concerts as a teenager back in the 50's.   SAYS CHARLIE: "When we met a few times in the late 90's JOE would tease: "CHARLIE GRACIE I HATE YOU ... YOU STILL HAVE ALL YOUR HAIR!"  We lost a unique and great artist today. The man was electrifying on stage and gave his all!      
-- Charlie Gracie, Jr.   

And then this from Charlie himself ...     

My daughter Angela was a big fan of Joe's, too, and I was happy I could introduce her to him! Our paths crossed three or four times over the last 20-years and we always talked music! JOE had fond memories of the early days of R&R and had lots of praise for us originators. I am saddened by his passing and he will be sorely missed!
God Rest his Soul 
Charlie Gracie  

Below:  The Late JOE COCKER and Philly's first R&R star, CHARLIE GRACIE ...
(photo courtesy of Charlie Gracie, Jr.)

About the Belushi imitation: that always cracked me up.  Of course he couldn't actually "be" Cocker (just as Belushi and Ackroyd weren't no Sam and Dave, either) ... but their "duet" had to be a respectful mocking, highlighting the most unique stage mannerisms we'll ever see.  Better than Eddie Murphy's Stevie Wonder, I'd say.
I saw Joe back around '73 (Chicago Auditorium Theatre), and again much later, two times, when opening for the (real) Guess Who in '01.  Much better in '01.  Amazing that he could still deliver with such force, considering his style that seemed oblivious to how it should effect human vocal cords.  Definitely lost a great one. 
Dan Hudelson  
What made the whole Saturday Night Live thing so great and so hysterically funny at the time was NOT Belushi's imitation ... although it WAS spot-on! ... we had seen that before ... but the fact that he DID that impersonation right in front of Joe Cocker who was literally standing right beside him!  (There is a VERY brief ... and badly edited ... clip of this performance at the Billboard link below.  The highlight for me is when Cocker walks back to take off his jacket and then shoots a glance over his shoulder toward Belushi as if to say "What the fuck is this guy doing?!?!")
Let's face it ... catching Joe Cocker for the very first time at the beginning was a bit of a shock to the system ... that voice!!!  All those spastic gyrations!!!  Was this just Joe losing himself in the song, much the way Elvis claimed his hips took on a life of their own every time he sang rock and roll?  Was it all just a  gimmick to gain attention?  (If so, it worked!)  Was this guy actually having an epileptic fit live on stage, right before our very eyes?  (And, if so, shouldn't we call someone?)  Was it the drugs?  (He was, after all, of "The Woodstock Generation"!)  Or was it quite simply all of the above??? 
As part of all the tributes flowing this week in memory of this great singer, some have said that Joe Cocker could sing ANYTHING and make it sound fresh and original.  I don't know if that's really true or not ... I kinda doubt it ... but I DO know that if a song happened to come along and Joe "felt it", he could make his audience feel it, too ... he had that kind of power in his presentation.  (kk)  

Sad to hear about his passing.  He was a great singer.  That raspy voice was so cool!   It would be hard to pick a fave for me.  Probably "The Letter."  Still, so many songs.  "Cry Me a River" "High Time We Went"  "Give Peace a Chance" "Delta Lady" etc, etc.  No one sounded like him and turned a song to be completely his own.  
Bobby Jones, formerly of Aorta and other groups, was one of the members of the "Mad Dogs & Englishmen" backing group and is pictured on the LP cover as well!  Maybe we'll hear something from him on this, too.   
Clark Besch  

Somehow, it's always different when it's somebody from OUR generation that passes away ... somebody who "moved us" and had an impact on our life ... a "mortality check" every time.  I heard newscaster David Hagen on K-Hits telling the story about how while he was away at college, he once took in an abandoned puppy and named him "Joe" ... because he was a Cocker.  Hearing the news of Joe Cocker's death yesterday (the famous one, not the puppy!) brought back a wave of memories that have probably LONG since been absent from his consciousness.  It's amazing how music can do that ... cause an impact strong enough to share it on the air this morning with millions of strangers ... yet knowing that each and every one of us would somehow understand EXACTLY what he was saying and feeling.  (kk)      

Billboard Magazine put up some great clips of Joe Cocker (sent into us by Tom Cuddy) ... you'll definitely want to check these out!
You'll also find a link spotlighting Joe Cocker's Ten Biggest Hits in Billboard ...   

I heard the news on the radio and it set me back.    
Joe Cocker had passed away.    
I was surprised, as I had not known of his illness.    
70! Way too young, but taking into account the 70's lifestyle he had led, not that surprising.    
Yet, I was very sad. I have four musical acts from that era that I totally adored - Little Feat, Leon Russell, The Band and Joe Cocker.    
Now, Cocker had passed and I felt a void.  
I figured that Forgotten Hits would publish some type of tribute to Cocker, but I also figured that it would be very plain, as I was pretty sure that Kent Kotal was not a huge Cocker fan.  
I decided that it would be my responsibility to write a tribute to Joe Cocker and send it to Kent, so as to help him out.  
I picked up a yellow pad and a pen and made ample notes throughout the day. I'd pick up the pad, jot a note or two, and then put it down.  
I figured that by day's end I would have my thoughts sorted out well enough to type something good enough to praise the man whose work and talents had given me so much pleasure over the years.  
Then, the e-mail came telling me that the Forgotten Hits tribute had just been published. I clicked to go to the website. I wasn't expecting anything too good, to be perfectly honest.  
I read Kent Kotal's tribute article about Joe Cocker.  
I picked up my yellow pad. I peeled off the top two sheets of paper. I crumpled them into a ball. I flipped them into the wastebasket.  
There was nothing more to say.  
Kent Kotal had nailed it.  
Kent, my friend, thank you for what I consider to be your finest work.  
Thank you -  
Steve Sarley    
Wow!  High praise indeed!  No, I wasn't the major fan you were ... but his music still touched me ... I believe it touched us all ... and I felt inspired last night to at least put SOMETHING down to commemorate this great artist.  It flowed very quickly ... it usually does when it comes straight from the heart.  Thank you for your validation ... EVERYBODY likes an "Atta Boy" once in a while ... it's always nice to hear that "ya done good!"  (kk)