John Robert “Joe” Cocker, OBE (20 May 1944 – 22 December 2014) was an English singer and musician. He was known for his gritty voice, spasmodic body movement in performance, and definitive versions of popular songs.
Cocker’s cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” reached number one in the UK in 1968. He performed the song live at Woodstock in 1969, and at the Party at the Palace concert for the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2002. His version also became the theme song for the TV series The Wonder Years. His 1974 cover of “You Are So Beautiful”, reached number five in the US. Cocker was the recipient of several awards, including a 1983 Grammy Award for his US number one “Up Where We Belong”, a duet with Jennifer Warnes.
In 1993 Cocker was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male, in 2007 was awarded a bronze Sheffield Legends plaque in his hometown, and in 2008 he received an OBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music. Cocker was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest singers list.
While performing a concert at Madison Square Garden on 17 September 2014, fellow musician Billy Joel stated that Cocker was “not very well right now” and endorsed Cocker for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before impersonating the singer in a take on “With a Little Help From My Friends”.
He died from lung cancer on 22 December 2014 in Crawford, Colorado. The two remaining living ex-Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, were among those who paid tribute to the singer, while Cocker’s agent, Barrie Marshall, said that Cocker was “without doubt the greatest rock/soul singer ever to come out of Britain.