We Dare You To Watch Joe Cocker’s Most Iconic Performance Without Getting Choked Up
Andranik Azizbekyan / YouTube
With A Little Help From The Beatles
25 years old and with a deep, soulful voice that was reminiscent of whiskey, cigarettes and too many late nights, Joe Cocker delivered what was to be his most career defining performance on the afternoon of August 17th, 1969, following fellow Woodstock alumni Jefferson Airplane’s frenetic 8:00am performance as the first officially scheduled act of the day. Playing for nearly two hours before a thunderstorm brought the third day of Woodstock to a halt, Cocker sailed his way into rock and roll history when he closed out his 13-song set with something special: a cover of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends,” a drastic re-arrangement of the version that appeared on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band done entirely in 6/8 meter and given strong gospel and soul elements.
Fun Fact: In 2001, Cocker’s version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
A collective hush fell over the crowd that afternoon, totally transfixed by the wild haired man onstage twisting and gyrating with each syllable. From the airtight call-and-answer between Cocker and his backup singers to the Grease Band’s ability to feel out when to push, when to pull, and when to get out of the way completely, “With A Little Help From My Friends” as interpreted by Joe Cocker that day didn’t just make an impact on Woodstock’s legacy – it shaped it, creating one of those defining moments that no matter how many years are put between it and you always thrusts you right back to oppressive heat, stormy skies, and an electricity in the air that wasn’t caused by the weather.