Joe Cocker Biography, ‘With a Lot of Help From His Friends,’ Coming

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The book cover of a 2023 biography of Joe Cocker, from author Mark Bego

“Describing him, people most commonly used the words ‘kind,’ ‘innocent,’ and ‘naïve.’ Although I never met him, he seems to have been outwardly ‘likeable.’ However, as I delved into Joe’s history, I found that throughout his life he had only one enemy to fight against for his survival: himself. Joe Cocker is a textbook case of a life-long battle of career and personal self-destruction. While the rock & roll side of the road is littered with the sagas of characters that ruined their lives with drugs, liquor, cigarettes, and depression, it seems that few did it as long and hard as Joe Cocker.”

So begins the opening of Mark Bego’s 68th book, on the powerhouse vocalist. The book, titled With a Lot Of Help From His Friends, and coming November 16, 2023, via Yorkshire Publishing, contains the exploits of one of the most gifted and well-remembered singers ever. It’s available for pre-order in the U.S. here and the U.K. here.

Fellow Woodstock-legend Melanie penned the introduction to the book: “When I think of Joe Cocker, I think of the word ‘authenticity.’ The feeling I always got from him was that he was a ‘true artist,’ and it was the music that was most important to him. I absolutely loved him. I thought he was so great, and he was so talented as a singer and as a performer that I got the sense he was from another planet. Because we were both performers at the original Woodstock Music Festival in August of 1969, Joe and I will forever be part of that exclusive club of singers and musicians. There was no experience quite like Woodstock, and we were both in awe of the magnitude of the event, and the importance of being associated with it.”

From his debut album (With a Little Help from My Friends) on – including his second self-titled album which contained a sizzling version of The Beatles’ “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” – to his signature work with The Grease Band and his exploits with Leon Russell on the huge Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, Cocker captivated a sizable and loyal audience throughout his extensive career.

In 1969, Cocker performed at the history-making Woodstock event in Bethel, NY. They performed several songs, including “Feelin’ Alright?,” “Something’s Comin’ On,” “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” “I Shall Be Released” and “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Cocker would later say that the experience was, “like an eclipse … it was a very special day.”

With subsequent hits like “The Letter,” “Feeling Alright” and “You Are So Beautiful” Cocker cultivated a huge and loyal following. Teaming up with vocalist Jennifer Warnes on the 1982 track “Up Where We Belong” (from An Officer and a Gentleman) – it led to an Oscar for Best Original Song. Cocker and Warnes performed it at the awards ceremony.

Related: Incredibly, Cocker has not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Bego’s published books on rock & roll and show business include two New York Times best-sellers. His numerous show business biographies have included the life stories of such stars as Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin, The Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Sonny & Cher, and more.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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