Friday, January 9, 2015

More Heartfelt Joe Cocker Memories

Got this email from our FH Buddy Henry Gross the other day ... a close, personal friend of the late Joe Cocker.

Henry performed with Joe at Woodstock back in 1969 when he was part of Sha Na Na and, until now, has said very little about the passing of his friend ... and this music icon.

The cool thing about Forgotten Hits is that we give these artists the forum to express those feelings with an audience who will most appreciate it.  (Be sure to check out the site tomorrow for the latest regarding the evolution of Paul Revere's Raiders since the passing of the charismatic leader!)

But for now, please enjoy these comments from Henry Gross as he opens up his heart about his dearly departed friend ...   


A healthy and happy new year to you, yours and all of your readers. We love what you do and applaud your efforts to keep the memory of the great musicians, songwriters and producers alive.  

It was too soon for me to jump in and comment about the loss of the great Joe Cocker but after the holidays I feel like saying a few words.  

I stood maybe fifty feet away from Joe at “Woodstock” and had the privilege of witnessing his magical performance. I shared stages with him in the 70’s when, yes, perhaps at times he was having too much fun, but even on those shows, I never remember one night where there were no inspirational moments. He was a soul man and despite the often cruel and unforgiving words written about some of his performances from that time, he always did his best and often delivered, to quote Humphrey Bogart in the Maltese Falcon, “The stuff dreams are made of”. I know. I was there for several shows. 

I was again privileged to open a run of shows with him in Florida a couple of years ago. He was great, his voice awesome and he couldn’t have been kinder or more generous to me in his praise of my songwriting and performance and his sharing of random memories of times and places, several of which we shared. We did about a half dozen memorable shows. The best part for me was Joe taking the time to stop by my dressing room before he went on to talk about singing and the wonder of this life! 

I would have loved him forever if only for the joy his performance on “You Are So Beautiful To Me” brought my mom. But the time I did get to spend with him gave me enough of a glimpse of his heart to be certain I was in the presence of a giant … a truly gifted artist. For those precious times I will always be grateful and consider myself lucky.

I miss him. His passing truly saddened me as much as his presence brought me joy. To everyone who worked and made music with him, I offer my condolences. To his wife, I send the tears of sorrow and joy in my heart. To Joe I send love and thanks for making all of our lives a whole lot brighter. 

You will forever live in my memory.  
Henry Gross     

Hi Henry! 

SO good to hear from you again ... the very best to you and yours as well for the new year.

Thank you for the heartfelt remembrance of Joe Cocker ... 

Hopefully in addition to the one bad review you saw about a particular Cocker performance you ALSO saw our loving tributes as well ...

I only saw Joe in top form when he appeared in concert ... after COMPLETELY blowing me away in Woodstock, I couldn't help but wonder if he "still had it" all those years later.  Believe me ... he did! 

Likewise, we've seen other (and might I add far LESSER) performers trying to make their way through a live show when, in truth, they were in absolutely NO shape or condition to be doing so ... I guess to a degree it comes with the territory of our generation, right?  To that degree, I think MOST fans have been more than "forgiving".  But artists also have to keep in mind that from the FANS' perspective, they spend good, hard-earned money to see these performers who have touched our lives ... and there will always be certain expectations that come along with that.  (By the same token, I've also seen FAR too many audiences who were so fucked up in their seats you have to wonder if they'll remember being at the show at all!!!)  

There is kind of the unwritten agreement between performer and fan, I guess ... maybe sometimes the fans' expectations are too high ... but I also believe that the performer has a certain obligation to put on the best show possible night after night, too, if only to say Thank You to all those fans for their on-going support that got them where they are.    

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and memories of the great Joe Cocker ... I appreciate it and will share with our readers as well. 

Take care!

Kent Kotal
Forgotten Hits   

Hi Kent, 

I wasn’t referring to this review you posted. Sadly, I read a couple of them in the 70’s. 

People have to understand that all performers give their word to do the best they can and deliver every night. Not everyone can live up to that promise every night. I get it, believe me. When I do a show it’s like I shook your hand ... you show up … I’ll give 1,000%. And believe me I do. But I’m forgiving of my fellow performers when they stumble. We’re only human - unless it becomes a habit. Joe was amazing damn near every night. My reaction was … the man gave so much ... remember the greatness and imagine your world had you never heard that voice.   

In life it very often seems that what we choose to remember and focus on defines who we are. Just sayin'.  

Much love, 


I meant to run this the other day but ran out of time ...   

Here's The Joe Cocker Hit List!    

Quite an impressive body of work, I must say!  

1968 With A Little Help From My Friends - US = 49; Chi = xx; UK = #1
1969 Feeling Alright - US = 69; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1969 Delta Lady - US = 69; Chi = xx; UK = 10 

1970 She Came In Through The Bathroom Window - US = 30; Chi = 32; UK = xx
1970 The Letter (Live) - US = 5; Chi = 2; UK = 39
1970 Cry Me A River - US = 7; Chi = 7; UK = xx
1971 High Time We Went - US = 19; Chi = 8; UK = xx
1971 Black-Eyed Blues - US = 22 (B-Side); Chi = xx; UK = xx
1972 Feeling Alright (reissue) - US = 28; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1972 Midnight Rider - US = 26; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1973 Woman To Woman - US = 52; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1973 Pardon Me Sir - US = 48; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1974 Put Out The Light - US = 38; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1975 You Are So Beautiful - US = 4; Chi = 2; UK = xx
1975 It's A Sin When You Love Somebody - US = 5 (B-Side); Chi = xx; UK = xx
1978 Fun Time - US = 38; Chi - xx; UK = xx
1982 Up Where We Belong (with Jennifer Warnes) - US = 1; Chi = 1; UK = 7
1983 Threw It Away - US = 104; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1984 Edge Of A Dream - US = 63; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1986 Shelter Me - US = 80; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1987 Unchain My Heart - US = xx; Chi = xx; UK = 46
1990 When The Night Comes - US = 11; Chi = 4; UK = 76
1990 What Are You Doing With A Fool Like Me - US = 69; Chi = xx; UK = xx
1992 (All I Know) Feels Like Forever - US = xx; Chi = xx; UK = 25
1992 Now That The Magic Has Gone - US = xx; Chi = xx; UK = 28
1992 Unchain My Heart (reissue) - US = xx; Chi - xx; UK = 17
1992 When The Night Comes (reissue) - US = xx; Chi = xx; UK = 61
1994 The Simple Things - US = xx; Chi = xx; UK = 17
1994 Take Me Home (with Bekka Bramlett) - US = xx; Chi = xx; UK = 41
1994 Let The Healing Begin - US = xx; Chi = xx; UK = 32
1995 Have A Little Faith - US = xx; Chi = xx; UK = 67
1996 Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - US = xx; Chi = xx; UK = 53 

I will NEVER forget the first time I ever heard "You Are So Beautiful" ... a song that IMMEDIATELY grabs you ... and SO unlike anything else we'd heard Cocker do to date.  

And then when his voice cracks at the end on that last note ... an immediate cringe ... WHY on earth would he leave that in?!?!?  I can't believe he didn't go back and fix that!!!  This was the PERFECT record and he just ruined it.  ALL of those thoughts passed through my head when I heard it for the very first time ... then, about the next dozen times or so, I remember thinking (or even SAYING) "Here it comes" ... "Listen to this, he TOTALLY blows it" ... and then suddenly ... after about 25 or 30 listens ... it fits PERFECTLY!!!  

I was slow to get it at first ... that WAS the very essence of Joe Cocker ... it wasn't SUPPOSED to be perfect.  I've heard the song THOUSANDS of times since then ... and can't imagine it ever sounding any other way.  I've heard composers Billy Preston (credited) and Dennis Wilson (uncredited) sing it ... talk about a raspy, out-of-sync vocal, I don't know that ANYBODY could overdo Dennis Wilson's burnt-out vocal rendition!!!  Yet he made it a point to close out every Beach Boys concert with it.  Cringeworthy?  Almost unbearable.  Yet you still waited to hear him sing it every single show.   

Over the years, I've heard dozens of singers sing it perfectly ... cleaning up that last note ... and it just sounds wrong ... TOO perfect ... TOO clean.  Now, some 40 years later, it just doesn't sound right.  

But Joe nailed it ... TOTALLY nailed it.  It's what I can ONLY describe as "Imperfection Perfection".  He knew EXACTLY what he was doing.