John Robert “Joe” Cocker
May 20th, 1944 – December 22nd, 2014
Joe Cocker’s “Definite” was a birthday gift from my grandma and one of my favourite albums when I was a teenager. In the mid-80s, I saw Cocker live at the Waldbühne, an amphitheatre in Berlin seating over 22,000 people, built in the 1930s. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but it was actually a double concert of both Joe Cocker and Chris de Burgh, the latter being incredibly popular in Germany back then. (And people make fun of us for David Hasselhoff?) During the gig, Joe Cocker was drinking countless cans of beer, but his performance was memorable nonetheless. Later, I saw him live one more time in Berlin, this time sober, and he gave an amazing performance again.
In a 2010 interview with Deutsche Welle, Cocker was asked if Germany was especially important to him. He replied, “Definitely. In those rough years, the German fans were remarkable. I used to have nights where I’d do shows with terrible hangovers that used to make it really hard to perform back then. I’d have a couple of really great nights, then a couple of bad ones. Through the bad ones, the German fans would always be there. I kind of owe them something back. By the time I got to “Unchain My Heart,” I got this following. I couldn’t believe that I’d gotten through the dark patch and suddenly everything was rosy again. The fans were great. I’ve had this rapport with them ever since. We go to other countries. Now we do a lot in Russia, Latvia, we go into all those new territories. But there’s something about a German audience.”
And there’s something about Joe Cocker. I didn’t know which song to pick to go along with this post, there are just too many great ones to choose from, so I added a video of his entire 1997 gig at the Waldbühne below. Rest in peace, Joe. You’ll never be forgotten. Definitely.
The title is taken from his 1968 song “Marjorine”.
Did you know? After Barclay James Harvest and Bob Dylan, Cocker was the third to perform in the German Democratic Republic, in East Berlin and Dresden. The venue, the Blüherwiese, next to the Rudolf–Harbig–Stadion, bears the vernacular name Cockerwiese (Cocker meadow) today.