Joe Cocker was not exactly a household name – at least not in the sense of Elvis Presley or The Beatles. However, to a generation of “Baby Boomers” his name was synonymous with the growing trend toward “Hard Rock” music.

Joe Cocker was not exactly a household name – at least not in the sense of Elvis Presley or The Beatles. However, to a generation of “Baby Boomers” his name was synonymous with the growing trend toward “Hard Rock” music.

When I was in high school, it just wasn’t cool to not have a copy of the British rocker’s latest release. Most of the more commercial AM stations shied away from Cocker but the fledgling FM rock stations gravitated toward his raucous rock and roll style.

This week the world lost another rock and roll legend with the passing of Joe Cocker.

While Cocker was best known for his cover versions of such artists as The Beatles – “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”, he also could turn out the lush ballads such as “You Are So Beautiful” and “Up Where We Belong”.

Sometimes it seemed that he was not going to be able to reach some of those higher notes achieved by some of the more glamorous tenor vocalists of our time with his gritty voice. However, his unique interpretations of some well-known tunes were more often than not quite inspirational.

For most of my high school days you could here Joe Cocker’s music blaring from the speakers of most 8-track stereo car systems. Perhaps, only Grand Funk Railroad matched Cocker in popularity during the early 1970s, especially following the breakup of the legendary Beatles.

Perhaps he was popular with the male schoolboys because of the occasionally somewhat “naughty” or “suggestive” lyrics of such songs as “Delta Lady”, which would be considered quite tame by today’s standards.

Cocker’s popularity became well cemented with my generation as the result of his performance at Woodstock. His spasmodic body movement while singing he claimed was a tribute to his idol Ray Charles.

Not long after his Woodstock performance, Cocker and his band released one of the most influential live recordings ever released. The ambitious project was a 2-record or 2-tape set called “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.”  Almost every rock and roll act from that time on attempted to achieve that same sprawling live success on vinyl.

Cocker’s popularity began to wane in the mid-70s and he practically disappeared from the record charts for almost a decade. He made a moderate comeback in 1975 with a recording of Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful.” It is best known for the last verse in which Cocker’s voice cracks somewhat under the stress of such an emotional performance.

For a later generation, Cocker may be best known for his version of Lennon-McCartney’s “With A Little Help From My Friends” that served as the theme song of the late 1980s sitcom, “The Wonder Years.”

He earned a Grammy Award for his duet with Jennifer Warnes of “Up Where We Belong” from the motion picture “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

Rolling Stone Magazine lists Cocker at No. 97 on its list of its 100 greatest singers list. Once again, Rolling Stone gets it wrong. I’ve seen the list and there’s no way there are 96 singers better than Cocker.

To those who truly love rock and roll, Cocker will be sorely missed.