Joe Cocker, the British rock artist best known for his cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” and the 1982 smash “Up Where We Belong,” has died at the age of 70.
Sony Music confirmed the news to Billboard on Monday (Dec. 22), with a statement from chairman and CEO Edgar Berger, who signed Cocker to the label. “Joe Cocker is a legendary artist of rock and blues history and yet he was one of the most humble men I’ve ever met,” Berger said. “His iconic voice will forever be etched in our memories and our thoughts go out to Joe’s wife Pam and his family at this difficult time. Joe will live on in the hearts of millions of fans around the world.”
Born in 1944 in Sheffield, Cocker performed at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and scored 19 charting hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including familiar recordings like 1968’s “With a Little Help From My Friends,” which later became the theme song for the hit 1980s TV show The Wonder Years.
Cocker topped the Hot 100 with the 1982 single “Up Where We Belong,” with Jennifer Warnes, from the film An Officer and a Gentleman. The song also won him his only Grammy Award, for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal.
He also charted top 40 hits with “You Are So Beautiful” (No. 5), “The Letter” (with Leon Russell and The Shelter People, No. 7), “When the Night Comes” (No. 11) and “Feeling Alright” (No. 33). Another famed Cocker track, the Randy Newman-penned “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” became a hit in 1986 after it was used in the film 9 1/2 Weeks. The song reached No. 35 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart.
Although Cocker was reportedly battling lung cancer, the singer-songwriter’s agent said that he passed away of an undisclosed illness.
(Additional reporting from Keith Caulfield, Billboard)