Joe Cocker, king of the rock anthem

Oh, I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends

Joe Cocker died on this day, December 22, 2014, in Crawford, Colorado, at the age of 70.

No mystery as to the cause of death. He had smoked forty cigarettes a day until he quit in 1991.

“Joe Cocker was without a doubt the greatest rock-soul singer ever to come out of Britain,” said music agent Barrie Marshall.

In 1968 Joe Cocker took a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney called ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ and transformed it into a song for the ages.

“I remember him and producer Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Savile Row and playing what they’d recorded,” said Paul McCartney. “It was mind-blowing, he totally turned the song into a soul anthem.”

The three big things people remember about the 1969 rock festival Woodstock are: Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix played there — and Joe Cocker performed ‘With a Little Help from My Friends.’

The song and Joe Cocker’s rendition defined Woodstock.

Joe Cocker had a distinctive style when he was on stage.

“He begins the performance as if the music is taking over his body and soul,” said rock writer Nick D. Bambach. “He looks like a man possessed waiting for the spirits to be released from within.”

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🎵 Jude Jude, Judy Judy Judy Judy, ow wow!

A song best listened to when high!

Paul McCartney’s rock anthem ‘Hey Jude’ was released in the U.S.A. on this day, August 26, 1968.

The song is famous for its extended fade out which was described by a music critic as a “trance-like ceremonial that becomes almost timeless in its continuity.”

“Timeless in its continuity” — I like that, to which I would add, especially if you’re stoned.

Collector pays a bundle for song notes

McCartney’s notes for the song — a few lines scribbled on a piece of paper — sold for $910,000 at auction in April.

Paul McCartney wrote

‘Hey Jude’ was released as a non-album single and was the Beatles’ first release on their Apple Records label. It had the longest run of any Beatles song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is Billboard’s 10th biggest song of all time.

Story behind the song

In 1966, John Lennon was married to Cynthia; they had a son, Julian. Then John met Yoko Ono, and the marriage was over.

Paul McCartney was driving out to John’s house one day and started composing a song in his head which he intended to sing for young Jules, as he was known, to cheer him up.

Yoko Ono, Julian and John Lennon, 1969

“I always feel sorry for kids in divorces,” Paul McCartney reflected. “I started singing, ‘Hey Jules, don’t make it bad, take a sad song, and make it better.’ It was optimistic, a hopeful message for Julian.”

A few changes were made and thus was born a rock anthem.

Click bottom right to enlarge — play it through and get high!

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Rock band tragedy: A ‘soulless bastard’ manager caused two suicides

Paul McCartney described Badfinger’s Without You as the “killer song of all time,” words that would become tragically prophetic.

The British band Badfinger was on its way to becoming the next Beatles, but they got ripped off by a crooked American manager who got rich while the musicians became impoverished. And in the end, two of them hanged themselves. 

Two suicides ended Badfinger

Remembering Pete Ham, the creative force behind the band, who committed suicide on April 24, 1975, at the age of 27 — making him a member of “Forever 27 Club.”


He was so gifted,” said American record producer Dan Matovina. “It came noe soundtrack of the final episode of the TV megahit Breaking Bad — the demise of anti-hero Walter White — one of the most famous finales in TV history, watched by 10-million viewers.

Pete Ham co-wrote Without You with bassist Tommy Evans. The song would become a major hit for Harry Nilsson in 1972, and Mariah Carey in 1994, plus scores of other singers over the years. In 1972, Without You was awarded the Ivor Novello award for song of the year.


The band left Apple Records in 1971 and signed with Warner Brothers Records. Polley manipulated a contract that gave him most of the band’s earnings. The band members became little more than paid employees. 

Polley received a $250,000 advance from Warner which was supposed to be accessible to both Warner and the band, but Polley didn’t tell the band about the advance. It wasn’t long before the money — and Polley — disappeared.

Warner sued Polley, but he could not be found, and the band members were left penniless in one of the music industry’s most notorious rip-offs.

Cheated Badfinger
Stan Polley

“It’s a hard business,” Matovina said, “full of shysters, huge egos and people more than willing to use others for their personal gain.”
On the night of April 23, 1975, Pete Ham received a phone call from the United States telling him that he was broke. All his money had vanished along with Polley.
Later that night Pete and Tom Evans went to The White Hart Pub in Surrey to get drunk.
Pete downed ten whiskies and told Tom, “I think I’ve got a solution to all this.” Tommy drove him home at three o’clock in the morning. It was three days before Pete’s 28th birthday. He went into his garage studio and penned a note to his pregnant girlfriend Anne and her son, Blair:

“I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better. Pete. PS. Stan Polley is a souless bastard. I will take him with me.”


And then he hanged himself.

The band fell apart. Two of the original members, Joey Molland and Tom Evans set up rival Badfinger bands. Evans was the victim of more mismanagement and was sued for $5-million.

On November 19, 1983, seven years after Pete’s death from which he had never recovered, Tom had an argument with Molland on the phone about the royalties from Without You.

Two suicides ended Badfinger
Tom Evans

Knowing he was financially ruined, Tommy went into the garden behind his home in Richmond, England, and hanged himself from a tree.

There was no note, but his wife related: “Tommy said I want to be where Pete is. It’s a better place than down here.”


In 1991, Polley pleaded no contest to charges of misappropriating funds and money laundering in a $200,000 swindle involving an engineering firm. He was placed on probation for five years.

He died in California on July 20, 2009 — outliving Pete Ham and Tom Evans by 34 years and 26 years. He is not known to have expressed any remorse for destroying the lives — literarily — of the talented musicians.

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