Joe Cocker has died after a battle with lung cancer, but these seven accomplishments will leave you cheering instead of mourning.
The gritty-voiced musician, perhaps best known for his cover of The Beatles’ “A Little Help From My Friends,” died after a battle with small-cell lung cancer, his agent confirmed.
“It is with the heaviest hearts we heard that our beloved Joe Cocker passed away last night,” Barrie Marshall said in a statement. “He was without the doubt the greatest rock/soul voice ever to come out of Britain — and remained the same man throughout his life. Hugely talented — a true star — but a kind and humble man who loved to perform. Anyone who saw him live will never forget him.”
Here are 7 accomplishment of Joe Cocker’s that we should be cheering right now.
His outstanding performance at the original Woodstock
An entire generation was introduced to Cocker’s incredible voice when his Beatles cover “A Little Help From My Friends” was used as the theme song to the hit TV show The Wonder Years, but the single actually propelled the singer to stardom decades prior. It hit No. 1 in 1968, and a year later Cocker sang it during an electrifying performance at the original Woodstock.
His Grammy and Oscar wins
Cocker was still in the public eye in a huge way 14 years after Woodstock. His duet with Jennifer Warnes, “Up Where We Belong,” was the theme to one of the biggest movies of the year — An Officer and a Gentleman — and would go on to nab him both a Grammy and an Oscar, the only ones he would win in his long career.
His hit “You Are So Beautiful” is still being covered
While Cocker’s rendition of this beautiful ballad is actually a cover of the original by Billy Preston, his is the most well-known — and the 1975 recording is still being emulated to this day. No less than 19 professionally recorded versions have been released, by artists as varied as Ray Stevens, Kenny Rogers, Babyface, Captain and Tennille, Doris Day and Diana Ross, among others.
His friendship with The Beatles, forged through his own talent
The Fab Four were so impressed with Cocker’s cover of “A Little Help From My Friends” that Paul McCartney and George Harrison granted permission to use two more songs, “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” and “Something,” on his next album.
“I knew him through the years as a good mate and I was so sad to hear that he had been ill and really sad to hear today that he had passed away,” Paul McCartney told BBC News.
“He was a great guy, a lovely guy who brought so much to the world, and we’ll all miss him.”
In 2007, Cocker received an OBE from Prince Charles by order of Queen Elizabeth for his services to music. It was a huge accomplishment for the boy from Sheffield who dropped out of school to become an apprentice gas fitter if the whole music thing didn’t work out.
His ultimate success in his battle against drugs and alcohol
After years of excess that almost destroyed his voice and his career, Cocker finally got clean — with a little help from his best friend.
“If I’d been stronger mentally, I could have turned away from temptation. But there was no rehab back in those days. Drugs were readily available, and I dived in head first. And once you get into that downward spiral, it’s hard to pull out of it. It took me years to get straight,” he told the Daily Mail in 2013.
But his wife Pam, who he met in 1978, pulled him back from the brink. “It was Pam who helped me get myself back together,” he said. “She made me think positively. I was very down on myself. She made me realize people still wanted to hear me sing, and convinced me I could escape the downward spiral.”
His incredible musical legacy
Cocker leaves behind an amazing musical legacy, including 22 albums (the most recent of which is 2012’s Fire It Up), entries on both MOJO and Rolling Stone‘s lists of the 100 greatest singers of all time, a Grammy, an Academy Award and talk of a nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.