December 22, 2014

RIP: One of Rock’s Most Powerful and Soulful Voices.


John Robert “Joe” Cocker has been, as the lyrics of his legendary “Unchain My Heart” beg for, set free.

The iconic blues and rock singer, known for his unique covers and gritty, powerful voice, has passed away at age 70.

Sony’s official statement announced that Mr. Cocker lost a valiant fight with small-cell lung cancer today.

Joe Cocker was born in Sheffield, England, in 1944, and created over 40 albums in his lifetime. He was best known for powerful, soulful songs like his 1975 hit single, “You are So Beautiful” and the Grammy Award winning hit, “Up Where We Belong.” In 2007 he was awarded the OBE at Buckingham Palace for his contribution to music.

I first heard his voice as a little girl watching the television show The Wonder Years. He covered—with that heart-wrenching, powerful voice unlike any other—The Beatles, “With A Little Help From My Friends,” which played during the show’s opening.

As soon as I heard him croon the words, “What would you do if I sang out of tune,” I would run to the room—as much to hear his voice as to watch the show. His version was radically different from the original—as unique as he himself was—and he performed it at Woodstock back in 1969. His version was finally inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to see Joe Cocker perform in Calgary, Alberta.

He stole the show, rocked the stage, and his voice seemed not to have aged a moment from the days when I listened to him in pigtails. His sound has always seemed to reach out and grab my heart. He sounded, more than any other artist I’ve heard live, as if he meant every word he was singing, and as if he was singing right to you.

Joe Cocker is survived by his wife Pam, his brother Victor, his step-daughter, Zoey Schroeder and two grandchildren, Eva and Simon Schroeder.

His voice will certainly live on.

Watch Joe Cocker’s live performance of Unchain My Heart:

Joe Cocker at Woodstock performing With a Little Help from My Friends:



Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!


Author: Keeley Milne

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Imgur

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Dec 23, 2014 7:49am

I love Joe. I was his "neighbor" here in the remote reaches of the western slope of Colorado. I was blessed to meet his wife Pam and to visit his home and attend his "private" concerts to raise money for the children of his county here. He was a remarkable man of heart, voice and conviction. His home was full of memorabilia from his hero Ray Charles. A few years ago Joe reinvented himself. Listen to his recent music and read the lyrics from some of his music from the past few years. You will recognize a man embracing change and speaking his truth. His voice and delivery was better than ever. I trust he and Ray are singing a heavenly duet for our world even now. Listen with your heart, you can feel them! Thank you Keeley for your timely article on a great icon of our times.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Keeley Milne

Keeley Milne is a lover of words, an intrepid creator, and strives to find contentment every day in the simplicity of her life. She is most content when with her son Liam, a pile of books, or in the woods—and best yet all three at once. She loves to run marathons in other countries, go on solo adventures, and drink a perfect cup of coffee. She is a voracious reader and loves to write, listen, and laugh. Keeley makes her home in Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she is completing an English degree, going for runs in the coulees, and hugging Liam as much as she can, every day. You can connect with Keeley on her Facebook here, on Instagram, on Tumblr and at her website.