Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends (1969)

Joe Cocker is a British singer who came to popularity in the late 60s.

Joe Cocker was born in Sheffield, England, and in the early 60s he gained experience as a singer through playing pub gigs with his group The Avengers. This eventually led to a job as support act for a Rolling Stones gig in 1964, and Cocker was subsequently signed to Decca records as a solo artist. He released a single in 1964, a cover of The Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead”, but it went nowhere, and he was dropped from Decca. After a few more years he teamed up with keyboard player Chris Stainton, and they formed the Grease Band, eventually moving to London, where they set up residency at the Marquee Club. Finally Cocker’s big break came when his slowed-down version of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” became a massive hit, breaking into the Top 10 in the UK and finally getting to #1 in November 1968. He toured both the UK and the US with the Grease Band, and his debut album came out in 1969, riding on the success of his hit single.
With A Little Help From My Friends consisted almost entirely of cover songs, and Cocker soon became known for his dramatic and creative reworkings of other artists’ material. As well as the title track, the album featured “Feelin’ Alright” (by Traffic), “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (Nina Simone/The Animals), “I Shall Be Released” and “Just Like A Woman” (Bob Dylan), “Do I Still Figure In Your Life” (Pete Dello), the old standard “Bye Bye Blackbird” and three Cocker / Stainton originals. The song arrangements were driven by Cocker’s gritty and soulful vocals, but were also notable for some really fantastic playing from the huge list of session musicians behind him (including guitar from Jimmy Page and organ from Steve Winwood). The album was a success, reaching #35 in the US, and effectively kick-started Cocker’s singing career.

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