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On This Day, December 22, 2014: Joe Cocker dies at age 70

On This Day, December 22, 2014 …

British singer Joe Cocker died of lung cancer in Colorado at the age of 70.

Known for his raspy voice and expressive body movements while performing, Cocker first gained commercial success thanks to his soulful cover of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends,” which appeared on his debut album. His performance of the song at the 1969 Woodstock festival is often cited as a highlight of the subsequent 1970 Woodstock film.

The song, which featured Jimmy Page on guitar, hit #1 in the U.K. and was later used as the theme song for the ABC series The Wonder Years.  In 2001, the track was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Cocker’s best-selling tune was “Up Where We Belong,” a duet with Jennifer Warnes that the two recorded for the Richard Gere movie An Officer and a Gentleman. The song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and earned the pair a Grammy for Best Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The song also won the Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Original Song.

Other Cocker hits include covers of Billy Preston‘s “You Are So Beautiful,” which peaked at #5 in the U.S.; Dave Mason‘s “Feelin’ Alright?;” the Ray Charles hit “Unchain My Heart;” Leon Russell‘s “Delta Lady;” and Randy Newman‘s “You Can Leave Your Hat On.”

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