Over the course of a 50 year career, Joe Cocker released twenty two studio albums. He also released nine live albums. Joe Cocker also released an extraordinary amount of singles totaling sixty eight released throughout his career.
Joe Cocker’s last album entitled Fire It Up was released in 2012. Sadly, Joe Cocker passed away in December of 2014. Cocker’s heavy smoking habit had taken its toll on his lungs leaving Cocker to die of lung cancer.
Our Top 10 Joe Cocker songs list is a tribute to a singer who was truly one of the greatest rock and roll singers of all time. It only touches on a very small amount of his material but we hope it serves a launching pad for anyone unfamiliar with his work.
# 10 – You Can Leave Your Hat On
We open our Top 10 Joe Cocker songs list with a great cover version of Randy Newman’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” The song was released on Joe Cocker’s tenth studio album entitled Cocker. The album was released in 1986. The song also was included on the soundtrack to the motion picture 9½ Weeks that featured Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. This great song “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” has been covered by many artists including Three Dog Night, Tom Jones and the Jerry Garcia Band. In the end, the ultimate version belongs to Mr. Joe Cocker.
# 9 – When The Night Comes
The Joe Cocker song “When The Night Comes,” was written by Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance and Diane Warren. The latter being one of the most prolific songwriters for hire of the 1980s and 90s.“When The Night Comes,” was released on Joe Cocker’s One Night Of Sin album. The record was released in 1989. “When The Night Comes,” would become Joe Cocker’s last big hit of his career. He continued to release music but never had another top 40 hit single after the release of “When The Night Comes.”
# 8 – Up Where We Belong
Joe Cocker’s duet with Jennifer Warnes on the soundtrack song “Up Where We Belong.” proved to be Joe Cocker’s most successful single release of his career. While the song may not define the rock and roll blues personality of Joe Cocker’s music, there can be no denying the brilliant vocal performance Joe Cocker along with Jennifer Warnes delivered on this beautiful song.
“Up Where We Belong.” served as the theme song to the 1982 motion picture An Officer and a Gentleman. The film starred Richard Gere and Debra Winger. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. It was Joe Cocker’s only number one song of his career in the United States.
# 7 – Cry Me A River
Joe Cocker’s stunning performance of “Cry Me A River,” was released on the legendary Mad Dogs and Englishmen album. The great two record set was released in 1970. The album was recorded live at the Fillmore East in New York City. The song was written by Arthur Hamilton. The song “Cry Me A River,” was released as a single off the album.
# 6 – Unchain My Heart
The killer opening piano riff of “Unchain My Heart,” put the listener on notice that this one was going to be special. The arrival of Joe Cocker’s blues infused vocals is unleashed as the drums tumble into the mix and the wild ride begins. A classic Joe Cocker recording that stands as one of the best Joe Cocker songs of the 1980’s. “Unchain My Heart,” was released in 1987 on the Unchain My Heart album.
# 5 – The Letter
The classic Box Tops song “The Letter,” was elevated to an entire new level by Joe Cocker on the Mad Dogs and Englishmen album. Already a great song, Joe Cocker did what he always did with great material, he made it phenomenal.
# 4 – With A Little Help From My Friend
Joe Cocker hit number one in the United Kingdom with his classic cover of The Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Not many artists can take a Beatles song and have a bigger hit than they did with it. Joe Cocker did. The song was released on the album also titled With A Little Help From My Friends. The album was released in 1969. The album featured an all-star cats of musicians including Steve Winwood, Jimmy Page who at the time was just forming Led Zeppelin, Henry McCullough who would become a member of Paul McCartney and Wings, the legendary session man Albert Lee and many others.
# 3 – High Time We Went
As we continue our Top 10 Joe Cocker songs list, we turn to one of Cocker’s biggest hits. The great Joe Cocker song “High Time We Went,” was released in 1971. The song was issued on Joe Cocker’s third album entitled Joe Cocker. The album featured legendary drummer Alan White who would join the band Yes one year later replacing Bill Bruford. The song is driven by Alan White’s great groove playing and Chris Stainton’s fabulous eighth note piano comping. Joe Cocker sounds as down and dirty as he ever has. It’s pure vintage Joe Cocker at his raucous best.
# 2 – Feelin’ Alright
Dave Mason wrote a killer song with his “Feelin’ Alright.” The song first appeared on the debut Traffic album entitled Traffic. Joe Cocker recorded the song for his debut album entitled With A Little Help From My Friends. It was an album so appropriately titled because with the help of Arthur Butler on piano, Joe Cocker’s version just killed it. Millions agreed as the song hit number one in the United Kingdom in 1969.
# 1 – You Are So Beautiful
Yes, we know what a great rock and roll singer Joe Cocker was. The man could lay down a blues vocal lick as well as anyone. Nonetheless, his stunning vocal performance on “You Are So Beautiful,” was one for the ages. Could this be the greatest rock and roll ballad of all time? Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful,” was released on the I Can Stand a Little Rain album. The record was released in 1974. “You Are So Beautiful,” was released as a single from the album in 1975.
The song “You Are So Beautiful,” was written by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher. Billy Preston had recorded the song for himself and released it on his 1974 album entitled The Kids & Me. The stunning piano part recorded for Joe Cocker’s version was performed by legendary pianist Nicky Hopkins who had worked with The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and so many other classic rock artists.
Joe Cocker’s version of “You Are So Beautiful,” was a top 10 hit peaking at number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. It stands as one of the most heartfelt vocal performances of all time and was an easy choice for this number one spot on our top 10 Joe Cocker songs list.
Updated Dec 2, 2020
Top 10 Joe Cocker Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2020
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