Joe Cocker has lost it. The decades of drinking, drug abuse and smoking have destroyed his once iconic voice. Tonight I went to a double feature at The Greek Theater in LA of Huey Lewis and the News, and Joe Cocker.
Huey opened the show and was as expected. He is not a favorite of mine. I went to hear Joe Cocker. The Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour was the best rock concert I have ever experienced. I still listen to the live album. Leon Russell produced and co-starred along with Rita Coolidge doing backup.
But as soon as Joe opened his mouth tonight it was obvious he had lost his voice. He never had a great tone but I loved his voice. He had a gritty edge to his voice that was never harmonious but was captivating. Who can forget him singing “You are so Beautiful.”
He still does the spastic air guitar that mimics MS albeit a little slower than before. Joe tried hard to cover up his vocal inadequacy without success. I was shocked he was still performing. I left halfway through his set. Joe needs “a little help from his friends.” Joe, it is over. Time to retire. Hang it up.
And why should we be surprised? In the Mad Dogs tour, he would guzzle down a quart of vodka while singing then vomit on stage. I bet that puts a lot of miles on the vocal chords.
Joe Cocker had a wonderful asset and he didn’t take care of it. He didn’t protect, nurture and enhance his voice, and now it is gone forever. Today Joe has gone from a rock icon to an object lesson. Let’s not forget the lesson.
Addendum: On a whim I checked youtube and it had concert footage from Mad Dogs. It refreshed my ancient memory — the insanity, the rawness, the craziness of it all. What visceral performances. He and Leon had a huge band and they all went nuts. Save your money, don’t go to the concert, just watch youtube for the real performance. It was an unforgetable night.