There are two things I immediately think of whenever I hear Joe Cocker and neither has a thing to do with his talent or musical legacy. First I think of my late Uncle, Harold Winters. My favorite Uncle. He gave me "Here's Little Richard" when I was about 6 years old and if that wasn't enough, it was Uncle Harold around that same time that turned me on to "Valerie" by Jackie & The Starlights. Uncle Harold loved Joe Cocker and when he got older he even resembled him a bit. Secondly, I think of becoming a father for the first and only time. My wife and I always knew when our baby would need to be changed because when a "number 2" was brewing she would go through a remarkable silent impression of Joe Cocker's trademark delivery. One of us would smile and say, "That is so adorable she's doing a Cocker, isn't it your turn?"
I've long felt that Joe Cocker hasn't ever truly gotten his due. There's been no Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction and since he didn't write his own material he is not often mentioned as an influence as music has marched forward. However, if you are from my generation it would not be a stretch to consider Joe a very important influence, and perhaps one of the finest song and songwriter "filters" of his time. For example, it was his version of "Bird On A Wire" that turned me on to Leonard Cohen all those years ago.
I've always loved what Joe Cocker did to a song. He didn't just sing it or deliver it, he wore it. He became the lyric and crawled up inside the melody, throwing it back at us with his soul and passion and love. He carried me away many times over the years and from all reports was always a hell of a nice guy. When this sad news broke today it came to mind that perhaps his friend and Mad Dog Alum Bobby Keys needed a front man for this year's Christmas Show at that huge afterparty in the sky. Yeah... that's it. With Mac settling behind the keyboards.
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