Joe Cocker has died at 70 following a battle with lung cancer, according to a BBC report.
Born in Sheffield, England, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter had multiple hits over his 40 year career, including “Up Where We Belong” and “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
He rose up through the ranks of the Sheffield clubs in the 1960s, as one of the unlikeliest stars to come out of the British music scene of the day. An unglamorous working-class bloke once described in his own record company’s press release as having a face “like the back of a corporation bus,” the qualms created by his appearance stopped when he opened his mouth and sang in the rawest, most blustery blues voice of his generation.
His mainstream breakthrough came in 1968 when he famously covered the iconic Beatles song “With a Little Help From My Friends,” which placed high on both U.S. and UK charts. The album of the same name was a hit in the United States, and the flailing intensity of his live performances at Woodstock, the Whisky a Go Go and other venues made him such a sensation that he was later parodied on “Saturday Night Live” by John Belushi.
“Known for his powerful delivery and dynamic stage presence, he [Cocker] toured extensively around the world, becoming an international superstar in the process,” said the Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow in a statement to TheWrap. “Our music community has lost a passionate and influential artist, and his legacy will continue to inspire and entertain generations to come. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and all who have been enriched by his remarkable work.”
Cocker had a big hit in the mid 1970s with “You Are So Beautiful,” and won a Grammy Award in 1983 for his duet with Jennifer Warnes, “Up Where We Belong.” The song appeared on the soundtrack to the 1982 Richard Gere and Debra Winger film “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
His version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” resurfaced again in 1988, as the theme song to ABC’s period comedy-drama,”The Wonder Years,” starring Fred Savage.
Cocker was awarded the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) at Buckingham Palace in 2007.