Blues-rock lost an important vocalist yesterday. The man with the unforgettable voice and passionate live show succumbed to lung cancer in Crawfield, Colorado. He was 70 years old. Here are some facts about Cocker’s storied musical career as a blues-rock singer:

  • Early influences on Cocker included the music of Chuck Berry and Ray Charles, both of whom he covered with his band Vance Arnold and the Avengers in the early 1960s.
  • The rocker soon became enamored with blues music, and his influences in that genre included Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Lightnin’ Hopkins.
  • In 1963, Vance Arnold and the Avengers booked a gig opening for The Rolling Stones, which garnered the musician some attention.
  • Cocker’s first single for Decca was a recording of The Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead” which featured Jimmy Page on guitar.
  • He is most famous for his impassioned, bluesy cover of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” which also featured Jimmy Page on lead guitar. The song reached number 1 on the British charts, although it did not fare as well in the states upon its release.
  • The vocalist gained major fame in the U.S. after performing “With a Little Help From My Friends” at Woodstock. It’s a special rendition, and you can watch it here.
  • Another major hit was scored with his rendition of “You Are So Beautiful” in 1974, It reached number 5 on the Billboard charts.
  • Cocker supplied vocals for Bo Diddley’s star-studded album The 20th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
  • John Belushi teamed up with Cocker to perform a funny rendition of “Feelin’ Alright” with Belushi impersonating Cocker’s flailing arm movements.
  • A smash pop hit was achieved when Cocker teamed with Jennifer Warnes on the song “Up Where We Belong,” recorded for the soundtrack to An Officer and a Gentleman. The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and won both a Grammy and an Oscar.

A rather impressive career, and a sad day for music indeed.

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