Although Joe Cocker co-wrote many songs, mostly with long-time keyboard cohort Chris Stainton, it was his interpretive skills that, rightly, took him to the heights. Despite his ramshackle manner, he was a deeply informed student of song, as evidenced by his extremely wide range of source material, which covered most of the bases of popular and also eclectic songwriting.
His signature songs, ” A Little Help From My Friends” and “You Are So Beautiful” by Lennon & McCartney and Billy Preston, respectively, are among the best-known cover songs in modern musical history, and along with his duet with Jennifer Warnes, the ubiquitous “Up Where We Belong” (Will Jennings, Jack Nitzche, Buffy Saint Marie ), are probably the most recognizable pillars of his reputation, but in his long career, there were so many writers who benefited from his way with a song.
Up front about his adoration for Ray Charles, he was visibly moved on a TV program when Ray complemented him on being a star pupil ” He may have begun taking it from me, but what you hear now is all Joe Cocker-it’s his soul you’re hearin’ “.
He inhabited a song as completely as did Ray Charles, which is as fitting a tribute as he would ever have wanted, being the humble man he was.