Paul McCartney Pays Respects to 'Good Mate' Joe Cocker

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Musician Joe Cocker photographed in the 1970s.

Paul McCartney has described the “mind-blowing” experience of hearing for the first time Joe Cocker’s performance of “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

The Beatles bass player has paid homage to the late artist and recounted how a life-long friendship launched at a listening session.

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'It’s really sad to hear about Joe’s passing. He was a lovely northern lad who I loved a lot and like many people I loved his singing,” McCartney says of Cocker, who has died at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer. “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 Saville 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 for him for doing that."

Cocker blew many more minds with his Beatles cover when he dished it out at Woodstock in 1969. Cocker’s version of "With A Little Help From My Friends" became the theme song of the popular coming-of-age series The Wonder Years, which ran from 1988 until 1993, almost 25 years after the Sheffield singer had a top U.S. 40 hit with it.

Through his career, Cocker covered various Beatles songs, including “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away," “I’ll Cry Instead,” and "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window." In most cases he improved on the originals. But it's his version of "With A Little Help From My Friends" that will forever be associated with Cocker, and it was this cover which earned McCartney's enduring respect.

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“I knew him through the years as a good mate and I was so sad to hear that he had been ill and really sad to hear today that he had passed away,” says McCartney in a statement. “He was a great guy, a lovely guy who brought so much to the world and we’ll all miss him.”