It’s almost one year ago since Joe Cocker died at his home, Mad Dog Ranch, on the 22nd December, 2014, aged 70. The iconic British rock star has been much missed. He was undoubtedly one of the pre-eminent rock musicians of his generation, releasing 22 studio albums, 10 live albums, 68 singles, and numerous compilations during his lifetime.
Universal Music Enterprises is honoring the memory of Joe Cocker with the release of the two-CD collection, The Life Of A Man: The Ultimate Hits 1968-2013, a 36-track compilation which comes out December 11. The Life Of A Man: The Ultimate Hits 1968-2013 is the first comprehensive double album with all the hits and highlights of his career, the definitive ‘Best Of’ of all time, encapsulating Cocker’s entire musical history, delivered in his signature husky blues voice. The Life Of A Man: The Ultimate Hits 1968-2013 offers a career retrospective, with tracks from his 1969 A&M Records debut, With a Little Help From My Friends, which included the title song – a UK No. 1 in 1968 – his first single “Marjorine,” which Joe penned, and his cover of Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright”; his self-titled sophomore album (featuring his covers of the Beatles’ “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” George Harrison’s “Something,” Leon Russell’s “Delta Lady” and the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Darling Be Home Soon”) and, of course, “Up Where We Belong,” his hit with Jennifer Warnes, to the title track of his final studio album, Fire It Up, and a live version of “You Are So Beautiful,” recorded in Cologne, Germany, in February, 2013, with both never available in the U.S.
Two additional Joe Cocker titles have also been made available on CD including two of his final three album releases. Hymn For My Soul, his 20th studio album was first released in 2007. Produced by Ethan Johns, who plays several instruments on the album, the songs include his signature covers of George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness,” Bob Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells,” John Fogerty’s “Long As I Can See The Light,” The Meters’ “Love Is For Me,” Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” and a Cocker favorite, Percy Mayfield’s “River’s Invitation.” Guest musicians on the album include Benmont Tench from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, guitar legend Albert Lee, drum icons Jim Keltner and James Gadson, and horn players Greg Adams (Tower of Power) and Tom Scott. The disc’s spiritual theme put the record in the top 10 of the Christian Album chart.
Fire It Up was Cocker’s 22nd and final studio album. A hit across Europe when first issued in 2012, reaching the Top 5 in several countries, going platinum in Germany, the album is now receiving its first-ever U.S. release. Produced by Matt Serletic, known for his work with Matchbox Twenty and many other artists, the album features songs by Keith Urban, Joss Stone, Marc Cohen and Marc Broussard, and includes three bonus tracks including Serletic’s “The Last Road,” Marc Cohn’s “Walk Through the World With Me” and “Let Love Decide.”
Cocker always gave his carefully curated songs his unmistakable trademark regardless of genre from Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In The City” to Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers To Cross,” with his own signature stamp, an incomparable interpretation, often and publically endorsed by the original writers. Paul McCartney was quoted: “He was a lovely northern lad who I loved a lot and like many people, I loved his singing. I was especially pleased when he decided to cover ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ and I remember him and Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Savile Row and playing me what they’d recorded and it was just mind blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful to him for doing that.”
Joe Cocker was born in Sheffield on 20th May, 1944 to Harold and Madge, into a working-class background. Cocker crafted his performance in inner city pubs and clubs, even supporting The Rolling Stones in November, 1963 at Sheffield City Home under the name Vance Arnold And The Avengers. But Cocker finally came to the forefront of the musical landscape when he delivered a historic performance at Woodstock on Sunday 17th August, 1969. That iconic moment led to The Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour in 1970, and he remained relevant through five decades, constantly delivering music and emotions to audiences around the world.
Cocker’s final and official posthumous album The Life Of A Man: The Ultimate Hits 1968-2013 is a collection of outstanding songs over two CDs; an essential album for every music collection, the final curtain call for an artist loved and missed. These three releases offer a fitting retrospective on one of the most remarkable musical careers in rock history.