Remembering Joe Cocker

We’re getting to that age when the rock stars who didn’t die young are dying old.

In the wake of Joe Cocker’s death, “Howlin’ Doc Trulove” posted a memory on Facebook.

“Howlin’ Doc” says that back in the day, the raspy-voiced, air guitar-playing singer auditioned musicians for his upcoming Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour of Australia at the Westport Country Playhouse.

If you’ve got a Joe Cocker/Westport story, hit “Comments” below. We’ll get the complete version of his local connections — with a little help from our friends.

Joe Cocker


23 responses to “Remembering Joe Cocker

  1. lived in Westport 1936-1955. later (1971-98) worked as a Hollywood studio musician, and as such, played bass in the string section on Joe’s only hit single, Up Where We Belong, the duet with Jennifer Warnes; still get chills
    when i remember the sound of Joe’s voice in Warner’s studio B , a huge and other-worldly black man’s voice coming out of a seemingly palsied white man’s body.
    Thank You Mr. Ohanian, for helping me get into Music !

    • Sad tonight about Joe — so sad. Couldn’t help replying to your comment about Mr. Ohanion — I loved him a lot and he was a major influence in my life as well as a kid.

  2. Dan Hartman was very involved in the production of one of Joe’s albums in the 1980s (when Dan lived here and had a studio here as well). Does anyone know if Joe Cocker worked with Dan Hartman here on part of that album? Or did they do all of the work (including the actual recording) in NYC?

  3. I rented a house across the street from where Joe lived on Rayfield Rd. Does anyone remember that ? John Gould , are you out there ?

    • For those who don’t know: John Gould lived around the corner from Rayfield. He played with the Average White Band.

      • Are you sure? I had never heard that before. Johnny B. Gould was both a very talented soccer player and musician but I don’t recall any mention of his playing with the Average White Band back in the day–but I could have missed that somehow.

  4. Faculty member Fred Scerbo who has taught Saxophone and Clarinet at The Westport Music Center since 1984 was at the Playhouse for the auditions and got the touring job.

  5. What are you talking about? Dying at 70 IS dying young, thank you very much.

  6. Chip Strphens - Staples 73

    I remember the troop rented a house behind my grandfather on Old Road while practicing for the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. As I remember Joe was in financial straights and all his friends came to his assistance by participating in the tour. What sounds and joy and great music came out of that group getting together one of the greatest flash bands ever. I still spin the vinyl of the live recording of the band on tour, Cry me a river now, RIP Joe !

  7. talked with Jim Keltner this morning..he has been keepin up on the phone with Cocker for all these years … Joe died peacefully up on his place in Colorado, stayin high on the good, and doing a lot of his next favorite thing, fly fishing ! and yes, he only kept what they could eat at home and let the rest swim away !

  8. AND A NOW !!!!!!!!!!

  9. Sad day. Yes I was with Joe and Neil, Alan, Chris, Conrad, Mick, Nigel, Plum and Jay, and later Freddy and Ricky and the Sisters of Serendipity rehearsing at the Westport Country Playhouse for their upcoming tour back in seventy something.
    Joe was staying on Roseville Road and there was another place they rented on Old Road but most of the action took place in another rented house on Rayfield Road and in my house two doors away. FUN! It wasn’t uncommon to see long haired, yack coated, high heeled ostrich booted rock and rollers strolling around Grand Union, Westport.
    Joe loved roast beef dinners with Yorkshire Pud and we had many of them together. He introduced me to Monty Python’s Flying Circus on a plastic album he brought over and Joe could really laugh!
    I was invited everywhere with the band. I sat in with them on drums at the Playhouse. In the sixties I played with The Tremeloes in England and Joe offered me the gig but I was working as a commercial diver at the time and was making excellent money every week with a family to support.
    One day they invited me to a gig in New York and we left in a limo for ,I thought New York City. The limo drove straight onto the tarmac at La Guardia to their own chartered DC10 where we boarded with the other bands on the tour, Patto, who came from my hometown, and Mark Almond band. The gigs turned out to be in Rochester and Buffalo and I sat next to Joe as we flew over Niagara Falls. Everyone was enchanted by the falls so the pilot took us around again and I swear the spray was hitting the windows. He had used too much flight time and a cloud bank was moving in over Buffalo so we dropped like a stone to make it in on time. Nobody applauded the safe landing. I’m surprised Joe could sing after that.
    After one of these gigs, I met the great Bobby Keys who came to Joe’s hotel room and played us some recordings he had made playing sax for Stevie Wonder. I met Bobby again a couple of years ago when I was playing piano in Keith Richards’ house for Keith’s birthday and wedding anniversary. Bobby remembered the occasion. Sadly he too recently passed away. I have a million stories I could tell about Joe and his graciousness but I’ll conclude with this one. We were at the Boston Garden and I had driven a truck loaded with sound equipment to the gig.
    Later I was asked to help throw fans off the stage. I just couldn’t do it so I lowered one young lady over the edge and promptly lost my balance and fell into the crowd. They kindly pushed me back up onto the stage after I realized I had Joe’s mike lead wrapped around my foot while Joe was singing wide eyed and watching. The crowd roared with approval and later Joe laughed heartily once again. I have kept in touch with my dear friend Neil Hubbard who was Joe’s guitar player on that tour. It has hit him hard too. Check out Bryan Ferry’s new album. Neil plays on it and played on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original Jesus Christ Superstar album.
    One last comment. I never played with AWB. I jammed with them and count them all among my closest friends. Some of them played on my son Barry’s demo ballad, “With You”, which became the hit single for English band Morrisey Mullen. They played on my show biz soccer team and I have video of us playing soccer on Staples High School field, Lloeffler, field. Hamish went on to play with Sir Paul and Wings and Steve with Tom Petty, Clapton, Duran Duran etc etc Molly with the Eurythmics and a thousand others. Roger still composes and plays the odd gig while bringing up his family. The fabulous Alan and Onnie still keep AWB in the limelight and are busy touring. They are better than ever.One absolute last comment…Joe liked two songs I wrote for him, “Broken Man” and “Ride the Wind” but his manager took them away from him. I came close folks. Never mind, I still have a shot with the musical I have written, (that Danny is familiar with), and Ritchie Blackmore, another soccer playing friend, performs a one of a kind heavy metal guitar solo on one of my songs, his first since leaving Deep Purple. I was going to ask Joe to sing on my last track, “The Journey”. I heard him sing “Baa baa Black Sheep” at the Playhouse. It was so beautiful and it stayed with me. Joe is completing his own journey now.
    Farewell old friend.

  10. Holy cow John Gould. Great to hear those stories. I’m going to track you down as I want to hear the rest. Best, Dave

    • Great to hear from you Dave. It would be good to see you.

      • Merry Christmas John ! You are out there !! Do you still have the suit I made you, on Rayfield Rd ? haa…… Spending Christmas with out dear friend ” Choppy ! ” Here in Florida! It would be great to hear from you !!!

        • Merry Christmas Sherry,
          The white suit you so expertly tailored for me is long gone but I wore it with pride when I was best man at Joe’s road manager Jay’s wedding to the lovely Simmie. There’s another story. Jay became a trucker and was very well liked and respected.
          When he so sadly passed away there were tractor trailers to honor him as far as the eye could see. Hi to Choppy.
          Keep in touch,

  11. Hi John, How you doing old pal. Miss the old days of you playing at the Redding Road house on New years with Richie Blackmore. Boy, that was some big fun. You should play one of the local bars in the area one night and we will get a bunch of the old crew togather and come hear you play. It would be great. Very beat to you and yours. I will be in touch…. TK

    • Thanks Tommy. Waited for Christmas Day to respond to a special friend like you. Don’t know about the local bars. Dave’s tracking me down! Starbucks might be better. HoHoHo!
      Merry Christmas,

  12. So many thoughts and feelings during this sad, reflective moment for me. It was such an honor and privilege to have played in Joe’s band back in ’72. Rick Alfonso and I were hanging out at the stage door of the Playhouse on and off for a few weeks, hoping to eventually have the chance to get in and listen, with our sights ultimately in jamming with the band. During that time, we were playing in a local band, shortly after Goodhill broke up, with Tony Carey and Louis Sulkazi. We had a gig up at Mark’s Place, downtown, one night, and Conrad Isidore, Joe’s drummer came in and was introduced to us by our manager, Mitch. I told him that we were hanging out by the stage door, and would it be possible to maybe get in. He said that they were very busy getting ready for the upcoming North American tour, and it may be difficult, but to stop by nonetheless. So we took him up on the offer and went down there one more time, that time being the night before the tour was to begin at Madison Square Garden. Well, they took a break, and out walks Conrad, remembers us, and on a whim tells us to come in. We sit down and shortly thereafter asks if we have our horns with us. Of course we did, in the car. I proceeded to get them, and were invited on stage to play a couple of tunes. This was not a scheduled audition, as is being mentioned in others’ accounts of the moment. We played Joe Zawinul’s tune, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, then Alan Spenner called the Edwin Starr tune, 25 Miles, which he sang. Rick and I knew the parts and took care of business. It was a thrill, but nothing like what was about to be thrust upon us. Chris Stainton, Alan, and Nigel Thomas, the manager then went backstage to discuss something, and when they came back, said that we would play the first two nights with them, the Garden the next night, then Montreal, and if it worked out, then we’d have the gig. Well, we got it, and toured North America and Europe from March to August ’72, as well as recorded with the band.
    Also, while in Europe, we called back home and got Milton Sloan on the gig with us. It was quite the whirlwind experience for three twentysomethings, that has great memories.
    It was such an honor and a pleasure to have been a part of Joe’s band, sharing a part of his life with us.
    Joe was a great guy. So gracious and kind. I’ll always miss him. A true original artist.
    May God Bless You, Joe…
    Thank You,
    Fred Scerbo, Jr.

  13. Debra Jones Fawcett

    I first saw Joe Cocker at the ‘Capital Theater’ in Port Chester, NY. He blew me away then and for many years after. He had an incredible voice and so much soul. I was a fan from then on.
    Years later I was working at the Player’s Tavern and living in Westport at the time Joe and the band rehearsed there. My boyfriend was a bass player and became friends with a couple of the band members so we got to sit in on rehearsals. It was fun and the band was great but I remember Joe as being unready for MSG and the tour that would follow. He was in rough shape at the time and for someone that looks rough to begin with… He’s been quoted as saying, “… things began to deteriorate in 1972.” He liked to drink Mateus wine at the time (remember that?) and often sat on the edge of the stage with his head in his hands when he couldn’t hit a note or join in on time. He was really nice and always made sure that we had wine and were comfortable. We were all drinking from the bottles. It was sad to see him in such bad shape but I thoroughly enjoyed the times when he stepped up to the mike and delivered. He was one of a kind and deserves to take his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So far he’s not been inducted. He met an American woman named Pam and credited her with saving his life. I’m glad he got to live out the rest of his days sober and happy. He had a full life and managed to overcome many demons.