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Singer Joe Cocker Dies Of Lung Cancer At 70

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This morning we are remembering a man and a voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS")

JOE COCKER: (Singing) A little help from my friends...

GREENE: Joe Cocker died yesterday. The British singer first shot to fame with his soulful cover of The Beatles hit "With A Little Help From My Friends." It was most famously performed at Woodstock in 1969. That performance kicked off a career filled with hits - a career fueled by raw, energetic stage performances. But for Cocker, the key to success was really his unique interpretations of other people's songs, as he told NPR two years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

COCKER: When you hear me do "A Little Help From My Friends" you know it's a whole different thing completely. When I did "Unchain My Heart," the Ray Charles (singing rhythm of Ray Charles' version), we completely changed the rhythm and gave it a different attack and it made it like a new song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UNCHAIN MY HEART")

COCKER: (Singing) Unchain my heart. Baby, let me be. 'Cause you don't care...

GREENE: After struggling with drugs and alcohol the 1970s Cocker bounced back with this 1982 duet with Jennifer Warnes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UP WHERE WE BELONG")

COCKER: (Singing) Love lift us up where we belong, where the eagles cry on a mountain high.

JENNIFER WARNES: (Singing) Love lift us up where we belong, where the eagles cry on a mountain high.

GREENE: "Up Where We Belong" won Cocker a Grammy, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.

Joe Cocker died yesterday of lung cancer. He was 70 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UP WHERE WE BELONG")

COCKER: (Singing) Love lift us up where we belong, where the eagles cry on a mountain high.

WARNES: (Singing) Love lift us up where we belong, where the eagles cry on a mountain high.

GREENE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.