Leo & Karen’s California View – August 2012
JOE COCKER OBE has been keeping us “Up Where We Belong” for at least the last 50 years! “With a Little Help from My Friends” is what Joe will be getting when he opens at The Greek Theatre in LA August 15; Harvey’s Stateline Casino, Nevada August 17; Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord, CA August 18; and the Santa Barbara Bowl August 19 where Karen and I will attend.
Born John Robert Cocker May 20, 1944 in Crookes, Sheffield in Yorkshire, he became a British Rock and Blue’s singer in the 60s with a gritty voice and idiosyncratic arm movements, while performing. He got his start playing Skiffle in the pubs of Sheffield, a place like a lot of us feel most at home.
Performing cover songs of Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, and Lonnie Donegan, one of his first big gigs was support group for the Rolling Stones at Sheffield City Hall in 1964. Producer Denny Cordell of Procol Harem, Moody Blues, and Georgie Fame saw Joe and the Grease Band and persuaded them to go to London and appear at the famed Marquee Club. This was when Cocker entered the big time with a groundbreaking rearrangement of With a Little Help from My Friends which made the Top Ten British charts for 13 weeks, eventually reaching number one (Jimmy Page played lead guitar).
After touring in 1968 with The Who and in the Fall with Gene Pitney and Marmalade in early 1969, Joe and Grease embarked on their first US tour that same Spring with their album going Gold. They played at several festivals: Newport Rock, the Denver Pop, and finally, flying by helicopter into the ultimate festival of the last Century, Woodstock.
I had just arrived in America at the height of the Vietnam war and the youth were rebelling. Everyone stopped everything they were doing and converged on Woodstock, in our case, only to be turned away by the police. So we just held our own party! It was shortly after that that Joe recorded She Came in Through the Bathroom Window and Something. Then dissolved the Grease Band as he was unwilling to do another US tour.
In 1970, despite Joe’s reluctance to be on the road, an American tour had already been booked so he hastily formed a new band christened Mad Dogs and Englishmen with a group of some 30 musicians that included pianist and bandleader Leon Russell, three drummers, and backup singers Rita Coolidge and Claudia Lennear, touring 48 cities, enjoying several chart hits with Cry Me a River and Feeling Alright by Dave Mason.
I was to meet Joe Cocker several times a few years later in the Valley (LA) and through a mutual friend, the late British comedian Jonathan Moore, and before Joe’s enormously popular Up Where We Belong with Jennifer Warnes in ‘82, I was putting a couple of Pub shows together and asked if Joe would like to come down and give a little support. Not only did he show up, he liked the band so much he got up and sang half the night, much to the pleasure and amazement of both band and audience alike, as Joe and pub music just go together.
For me, Joe is one of the nicest, most genuine Brits I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with. The rest is history. On June 3, 2002 Joe performed With a Little Help from My Friends accompanied by Phil Collins on drums and Queen guitarist Brian May at a concert on the grounds of Buckingham Palace to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty awarded him the OBE on her honors list for service to music. To celebrate his award he played two concerts in London and Sheffield.
So with luck we’ll meet him again at the Santa Barbara Bowl August 19.
Pam and Mike Bennett of The British Connection in Torrance (310) 214-1790 bought a small motor home to make their trips easier to get to their son Neil’s store in Gig Harbor, Washington (253) 509-0474. Weather was great for traveling, they had a fabulous ten days with the grandkids, and Pam reorganized the store for summer needs on the river. This left Julie and Sue running the Torrance shop.
We spent Karen’s birthday with a nice day out in Santa Barbara. Mac’s Fish and Chips 503 State St (805) 897-1160 is doing very well, thank you. And the new baby is healthy, growing by leaps and bounds!
The smells from India House, just down the street at 418 State St (805) 962-5070, were mouth watering. Their lunch buffet is exceptional! And we were able to visit with owner Krishan Gupta.
Lovely man who we hadn’t seen lately as he was on one of his frequent trips to India arranging for more textiles for his stores.
North to Hampstead Village 1100 State St (805) 845-3343 where we missed Angela Torin by 10 minutes. She has a great gift shop from every corner of the UK. We could spend hours just looking through the books.
South to The Press Room, 11 E Ortega (805) 963-8121, which celebrated its 16thAnniversary in April. Raff keeps the party going all year with many football game events, the recent Diamond Jubilee celebration, and a rockin’ New Years Eve all-day party!!
We had a pint with Terry and shared many biscuits and pats, rubs, scratches with his dog Echo. Then the Admiral arrived so it got kinda’ crazy for a while. We eventually left and walked over to Pascucci for dinner. They’ve been at 729 State St (805) 963-8123 for 16 years, right in the heart of Santa Barbara, and boy, do they have their act together!! A very tasty menu, good prices, and the best customer service! Try their Capri Dinner: Scottish salmon to die for!! Not to mention the unlimited garlic bread basket and yummy desserts, all set in a fabulously decorated Italian Roman setting!! All in all it was a delightful day and fun way to celebrate a Karen’s birthday.
Two films being released this month with top British actresses: Kate Beckinsale in Total Recall and Rachael Weiss in Bourne Legacy.
The show we can’t wait to see is singer, songwriter, and voice behind SuperTramp, Roger Hodgson appearing at The Taste of Newport in Newport Beach, CA September 16. The last show we saw, Roger took to the stage, then exclaimed, “You’re all mine!” How right he was! The audience went wild with love and emotion giving him standing ovations after every song. It reminded us of what a prolific song writer and composer he really is! Which says it all for our generation. If you only get to enjoy one concert in your life time, this has to be the one! We’re hoping to get a group of loyal British fans together and make a real fun night of it. Roger has to be one of the most enjoyable entertainers in the music industry. See next month’s column for a pre-show feature. www.rogerhodgson.com/
We lost keyboardist Jon Lord of Deep Purple this month. He died of pancreatic cancer in London. Jon wrote Smoke on the Water and went on to have a successful solo career when he left Deep Purple in 2002. A regular customer at both the Santa Monica Kings Head and the Rainbow Lounge on Sunset Strip which is where we all headed after a show for a pint and a pizza with the lads.
Jon toured with the Flower Pot Man, known for their great hit Let’s Go to San Francisco before joining Deep Purple in 1968. The lineup included singer Ian Gillan, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, drummer Ian Paice, and bassist Roger Glover and was certainly one of the top hard rock bands of the 70s. Save a warm pint for us, Jon. It was a pleasure spending time with you and those certainly were the days and fun filled boozy nights!
August Birthdays: Peter O’Toole 79; Adam Yauch 58; Janet McTeer 50; Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) 64; Robert Plant 63; Rupert Grint 23; Elvis Costello 57; Sean Connery 81; Robin Leach 70.