British soul singer Joe Cocker dies at 70 post cancer battle

  • Reuters
  • Updated: Dec 23, 2014 18:55 IST

Joe Cocker, the raspy-voiced, Grammy-winning singer best known for his cover of the Beatles' 'With a Little Help from My Friends' and 'You Are So Beautiful,' died on Monday, his agent said. He was 70.

The death was confirmed by Marshall Arts, the company of Cocker's agent, Barrie Marshall, in England.

The rock singer, known for flailing his arms on stage during performances, lost a long battle with lung cancer, his record label, Sony Music, said in a statement.

"His international success as a blues/rock singer began in 1964 and continues till this day. Joe created nearly 40 albums and toured extensively around the globe," his label added.

Cocker, a native of Britain, lived in Crawford, Colorado.

Musicians and fans took to Twitter to express their grief at the death of the rocker, who was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) at Buckingham Palace for his contribution to music.

"Goodbye and God Bless to Joe Cocker from one of his friends peace and love. R.," tweeted former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
"We loved you forever. We will miss you always ... RIP Joe Cocker," rocker Steven Tyler tweeted.

Singer Bryan Adams described Cocker are a good friend and one of the best rock singers ever.

Cocker was born in Sheffield, England, into a working-class family. He worked as a plumber while pursuing a singing career, covering Motown songs in pubs in northern England in the 1960s.

He became known as a white soul singer and for his unique stage presence, twisting his body and face into contortions as he sang with his signature husky delivery.

The late actor John Belushi famously parodied Cocker's spasmodic style on late-night comedy sketch show "Saturday Night Live."

Cocker and Belushi appeared together on the show, with both performing in the rocker's style.Cocker played at the legendary Woodstock music festival in 1969, where he made his name with his performance of "With a Little Help from My Friends."

In the early 1970s "The Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour and live album cemented his success. He had a big hit in 1974 with "You Are So Beautiful," co-written with Billy Preston.

But he also struggled with alcohol and drug abuse.

His career revived in 1982 when he sang "Up Where We Belong" in a duet with Jennifer Warnes for the film "An Officer and A Gentleman." The song earned Cocker his only Grammy, as well as an Oscar for its writers.

His many studio albums included "Fire It Up," his last, in 2012.

Cocker is survived by his wife Pam, his brother Victor, a stepdaughter and two grandchildren. Along with his wife, Cocker set up the Cocker Kids' Foundation to support local youth.

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