May 20, 1944

On this day in 1944, John Robert “Joe” Cocker was born at 38 Tasker Road in Crookes, Sheffield, in the West Riding of Yorksire, England, to Madge and Harold Cocker.

At a young age, Cocker was finding himself inspired by musicians, such as Ray Charles. He started singing in pubic by the age of 12.

Cocker, along with three of his friends, formed his first band in 1960, called The Cavaliers. In 1961, under the stage name Vance Arnold, Cocker continued his career with a new group, called Vance Arnold and the Avengers.

Then, in 1964, Cocker signed a recording contract as a solo artist with Decca Records and released his first single, a cover of The Beatles’ ‘I’ll Cry Instead’ with Jimmy Page on guitar. Cocker teamed up with Chris Stainton to form the Grease Band. After minor success in America with the single ‘Marjorine’, Cocker then received high praise for his next release – another Beatles cover, ‘Little Help From My Friends’, again with Jimmy Page on the guitar.

During his U.S. tour, Cocker played at several large festivals, including the Newport Rock Festival and, of course, his unforgettable and moving performance at 1969’s Woodstock Festival.

Cocker’s next band, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, consisted of 30 musicians, including three drummers. They would tour 48 cities to fulfill a contract that Cocker had made prior. However, the drug use on this tour caused concern for Cocker’s mental and physical health.

Throughout the 1970’s he continued to record and release albums, as well as tour continuously. In 1982, Cocker recorded the duet ‘Up Where We Belong’ with Jennifer Warnes, which received a Grammy award.

In the span of his career, Cocker has released 22 studio albums. Rolling Stone magazine listed him at No. 97 on their 100 Greatest Singers chart.

Cocker had a thirteen-year relationship that ended permanently in 1976. In 1987, he married Pam Baker, and the two reside on Mad Dog Ranch in Crawford, Colorado.

Cocker continues to perform live.

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