NEW YORK CITY: Legendary singer Joe Cocker, whose intense, gritty voice won him wide acclaim that spanned both rock and blues, has died at age 70, his agent said on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
Cocker, who started off playing to small audiences in pubs in his native England, gained fame when he jolted the 1969 Woodstock festival with his high-powered version of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” – one of rock’s most successful covers.
Cocker – who on stage would flail his arms so wildly that uninitiated crowds wondered if he had neurological problems – said in a 1971 movie about him, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” that music served as his release and mused that he could have been a murderer if he had not been a singer.
But some of his biggest hits showed a gentler side, including the love ballad “You Are So Beautiful” and “Up Where We Belong,” a Grammy-winning 1982 duet with Jennifer Warnes that figured prominently in the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
“He was without doubt the greatest rock/soul voice ever to come out of Britain,” his agent, Barrie Marshall, said in a statement announcing his death on Sunday evening.
Paul McCartney mourned Cocker as a “lovely guy who brought so much to the world.”
The former Beatle said that he found Cocker’s version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” to be “mind-blowing.”
The cover “totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful for him for doing that,” McCartney said.
Cocker suffered from lung cancer and died at his home in the small town of Crawford, Colorado, where he moved some 20 years ago, label Sony Music said.