John Robert “Joe” Cocker, OBE (born 20 May 1944) is an English rock and blues singer, who came to popularity in the 1960s, and is most known for his gritty voice, his idiosyncratic arm movements while performing, and his cover versions of popular songs, particularly those of The Beatles. He is the recipient of several awards, including a 1983 Grammy Award for his #1 hit “Up Where We Belong“, a duet he performed with Jennifer Warnes. He was ranked #97 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest singers list.
Cocker was born on 20 May 1944 at 38 Tasker Road, Crookes, Sheffield, England. He is the youngest son of a civil servant, Harold Cocker, and Madge Cocker. According to different family stories, Cocker received his nickname of Joe either from playing a childhood game called “Cowboy Joe” or from a neighbourhood window cleaner named Joe. Cocker’s main musical influences growing up were Ray Charles and Lonnie Donegan. Cocker’s first experience singing in public was at age 12 when his elder brother Victor invited him on stage to sing during a gig of his skiffle group.