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Joe Cocker Tribute: Jennifer Warnes Shares Heartfelt Remembrance of 'Up Where We Belong' Duet Partner

Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
Courtesy of Jennifer Warnes

Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes perform at the Academy Awards in 1983.

When I was teenager there were three large posters of famous people on my bedroom wall -- Bob Dylan, D.H. Lawrence and Joe Cocker in the middle of a scream in concert at Woodstock. The picture of Joe frightened my mother, but I reassured her. "No mom, he's an emotional visionary."

I didn’t know then, but I know now, that if you wish for something with your whole heart, it has a pretty good chance of coming true.

In the early '80s, other than a few great pairs such as Ella and Louis, Loretta and Conway, duets were not common on the charts. Music that year was weighted down with synthesizers and rhinestone jumpsuits. I was home watching one of those less than wonderful Grammy telecasts when Joe appeared singing "I'm So Glad I’m Standing Here Today" with the Crusaders. His voice was like a knife cutting through me. He laid his heart right on the table. I also knew right then that we would sing together.

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Then that beautiful song by Will Jennings, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Jack Nitzsche fell into our hands. The movie wanted us. Things just fell together. I agree that the pairing of a rough Sheffield blues guy with a folkie-pop girl seemed odd. To make it worse they dressed me in taffeta, Joe in a suit, it was crazy. We looked like two prom kids, not like Ella and Louis. But in 1983 we toured the big wide world and never lip-synced once. That was our rule, no lip syncing. Every performance was the real deal, a free falling skydive. Geronimo! Joe took his liberties with the song and I chased after. Singing with Joe was often risky and always thrilling. Those are great memories that I will keep in my heart.

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With a new dread, I realized yesterday that we will never sing our song again. That thought makes me feel sick. We met last year in Berlin to sing together. I didn't know that would be our last time.

Joe won my heart completely when I first saw the movie Woodstock. He won millions of hearts with that film. But it was a young girl's dream come true to later become Joe’s singing partner.

I will always love him and always miss him.

Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker's 1982 collaboration "Up Where We Belong" for the film An Officer And a Gentleman won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and netted them both the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. It also topped the Billboard Hot 100.