The Beatles were at a critical point in their careers in late 1966. Musically, they were creating much more complex songs that could not be played on the stages of the day. Politically, there were people in the Philippines and the southern United States who wanted to kill them. Personally, they were all settling in to domestic life (three were married, and Paul was in a relationship with Jane Asher).
So they shook up things a little bit.
Some of the changes in their lives wouldn't happen for several years yet, but in late 1966/early 1967 they decided that they didn't want to issue another Beatles album. Instead, they wanted to issue an album by an entirely new group, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band.
The album started with a declaration that the performers were Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band. Crowd noises could be heard - not real crowd noises (the band ceased performing live in 1966), but fake ones. After a couple of minutes, the band introduced Billy Shears, whose voice sounded incredibly similar to Ringo Starr. Billy sang a song called "With a Little Help From My Friends." A nice song, but in later years no one would refer to this song as the highlight of the album.
A little while later, someone else sang that same song. And it sounded a little different.
The singer was a man named Joe Cocker, whose voice and physical gyrations would grace several other hits over the next decade and a half. But at the moment, he had transformed this incidental song into something that cowriter Paul McCartney later called a "soul anthem."
This would lead to another transformation, when a off-Broadway singer named John Belushi began to gain fame for his Joe Cocker impression. I couldn't find a video of Belushi singing "With a Little Help," but I did find this gem (which does include a little excerpt of the song).
The video above is an excerpt from the show "Lemmings," a show about death that was clearly not ready for prime time.
A few years later, Cocker and Belushi would perform together on a late-night television show. After that, people started dying. Lennon. Belushi. Harrison. And now Cocker.
But both surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, paid tribute to Joe Cocker and his amazing, transforming voice.
#oealbumreveal And the tentative title for the forthcoming Ontario Emperor album is... - ..."Salad." While the final track listing is yet to be worked out, one of the songs will be entitled "Plate." It may or may not bear a similarity to the ...
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