Those three chords are unmistakable—as unmistakable as the voice that followed them in the brilliant version of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends.” I’m talking about the Joe Cocker version, of course, one that never gets old.
And now Joe has gone to that great theater upstairs, dead from cancer at the age of 70. He was one of the most indelible rock/soul singers from Britain, with a uniquely gravelly voice and a stage presence that verged on the extreme. He went off the rails for a while after his heyday in the late 60s, but he pulled it back together and kept on performing until a few months ago.
The radio station I listen to all day when I’m writing, WFUV, has been playing lots of Joe’s songs, and hearing them now is both uplifting and sad.
The guy could really sing.
No, not the hero of the Revolutionary War. The singer from Paul Revere and the Raiders, one of those bands that Lurchers who loved pop’n’rock of the 1960s-70s will remember fondly, who just died at age 76.
The Raiders were one of those bands that made you laugh—unlike Jim Morrison who was sex personified, or the Beatles who were, well, the Beatles—these guys just wanted to have a good time. Their biggest hit was “Indian Reservation” in 1971. They were the house band for Dick Clark’s TV show, Where the Action Is. And I had no idea that over the last 50 years, they kept on touring, in various incarnations, with Paul still leading the band.
Remember the lyric: “Too old to rock’n’roll/too young to die,” courtesy of one of my fave bands, Jethro Tull?
Good thing they were wrong.
There would be no Rolling Stones as we know them were it not for the brilliant mind of the Bavarian financial whiz, Prince Rupert zu Loewenstein, who died a few days ago at 80. Even though he was no fan of rock music (he actually admitted he preferred the Beatles!) or drugs or stupid excessive behavior, he stuck around as the band’s money manager. He made them tax exiles and master merchandisers and gazillionaires. He kept them out of jail. He babysat them through countless dramas.
No wonder he described himself as a “combination of bank manager, psychiatrist, and nanny.”
Mick got peeved when Rupert wrote his memoir, A Prince Among Stones, in 2013, but I’d wager that after recently losing his girlfriend L’Wren Scott to suicide, he’s feeling this loss very keenly too. Rupert was like a surrogate dad to him for decades.
He knew how to live the life, and he lived it well.