Joe Cocker: Rock and Roll Ain't Pretty

December 23, 2014 5:35 PM

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Upon hearing news of Joe Cocker's passing yesterday at the age of 70, my mind went back to the first time I saw the film of his performance at Woodstock. I think it was on MTV and I was probably about nine or ten years old. I had no idea who he was. He looked like an audience member who had somehow managed to sneak up onto the stage, perhaps after ingesting some of the infamous brown acid. Decked out in a sweat-soaked tie-dyed shirt, crazed and twitching, he was performing his seminal cover of the Beatles' "A Little Help from My Friends." As I watched him, his spastic, frenzied movements accompanying his crazed, contorted facial expressions almost made me ignore the sheer power of his performance.

I mean, let's face it: He was funny to watch. John Belushi's brilliant parody of him on Saturday Night Live in the mid seventies was actually not that over the top. Something happened to the man's body when he sang that was comical and almost frightening. Clearly, this man was not terribly image con...

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