Joe Cocker

"Joe Cocker is the greatest white blues singer ever....Joe was brought to my attention by Denny Cordell.... I got a tape in the mail of a single by Joe called 'Marjorine' that got me very excited."

"The song 'The Letter' [from the 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen' album] was the first hit for Joe, and provided a tremendous glimpse of his amazing musical force. --Jerry Moss


"I started singing when I was 16. I didn't feel I was getting anywhere in Sheffield and I was discouraged. But after I stopped singing, something was missing in my life. I just had to go back to it no matter what....You just get up there and sing the way you know how to sing. What comes out is either what people like or it isn't."--Joe Cocker  to Kurt Lassen May 24, 1969


Joe Cocker defined soul as, "An artist being able to put themselves over through the use of their voice. When this happens, there is a connection or rapport with the listener and the artist clicks."

"Leon [Russell] came up with the idea for Mad Dogs. Having come out of the Mad Dogs tour with no money never really bothered me. Back then, the feeling was, it was a crime to have money anyway. We were into this trip of stripping off our worldly goods."

Joe Cocker was managed by Denny Cordell, Tom Visconti and Tony Secunda's Straight Ahead Productions in England. Cordell made a licensing agreement with Jerry Moss of A&M Records that gave all of his artists record distribution in the U.S

Joe Cocker was the only A&M artist to perform at Woodstock in August 1969.


Joe Cocker and the Grease Band had toured most of 1968 and 1969. His manager was Dee Anthony who forced the 1970 tour because there could have been immigration problems if he failed to tour and the musician's union was exerting pressure. The Mad Dogs tour planning essentially came together on March 13, 1970 when Leon Russell was contacted to help. By the next morning, Russell assembled ten musicians and eight singers as the group who would tour. Rehearsals began that day. For the next six days, they were on the A&M Records soundstage for about 12 hours each day. The tour began on March 20 in Chicago. The tour was 65 shows in 39 cities over 57 days. A total of 43 people went on the tour. In addition to the 18 musicians and singers, there were three roadies, enine people for film and sound, two secretaries plus wives, children, girlfriends and managers. They traveled on a Lockheed L-749 Super Constellation. All of this was paid for by A&M Records with Jerry Moss approving the budget. The tour ended on May 16 in San Bernardino.

Jerry Moss asked Glyn Johns to work on the Mad Dogs and Englishmen album. The best tapes of the choir were from the Fillmore performances. The problem was that as the tour wore on anyone on the tour joined the choir and some sang out-of-tune.

In 2005, A&M issued a 35th anniversary version of Mad Dogs. For the first time Claudia Lennear's "Let It Be", Don Preston's "Farther Up On the Road" were released. Also in the set was Leon and the Shelter People's "Under My Thumb", plus Leon's "Mad Dogs & Englishmen" and Claudia Lennear's "Let it Be" that had only been released on single in support of the Mad Dogs film,  and the first stereo mixes of Cocker performing "The Letter and Space Captain."

In 2006, A&M released the four Fillmore East performances from March 27 and 28, 1970. The performances were remastered and released as 3 CD sets for each date and as a limited edition 6 CD set that had all four performances. 

The first movie produced by A&M Records was 1971's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen," a Joe Cocker tour retrospective. A&M paid about $500,000 to produce the film. In January 1971 it was shown at Cannes before it premiered in U.S. theaters. The film received positive reviews and played to sell-out crowds. In 2006, the surround sound DVD of the film was released.

By June 1970 "The Letter" sold over 500,000 copies in the United States.

In March 1971, A&M Records released a Joe Cocker single in Canada, "Bird on the Wire" which was not released in the U.S.

In early 1973, Joe Cocker re-signed with A&M Records.

Joe Cocker was voted 97 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.



Jamaica Say You Will New Music On A&M Records
Stingray New Music On A&M Records
20th Century Masters presss release

  1. The Blue-Eyed Soul of Joe Cocker. Record World, august 16, 1969.
  2. Cocker Single Follows Rule. Billboard, March 37, 1971.
  3. Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music. Joe Smith. New York: Warner Books. 1988.
  4. A&M Records' Greatest Hits. Matt Diehl. Rolling Stone. September 7, 2012.
Recording Years / Label
1968-1976 -  A&M Records

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