Why Joe Cocker Sang the Blues

TIME

Joe Cocker, the Grammy-winning British blues singer, died Monday at the age of 70, leaving behind a legacy that included dozens of albums.

But back when he was just getting started, the singer’s exuberant stage presence was so extreme that he once joked to TIME that Ed Sullivan tried to hide him with back-up dancers so as not to alienate viewers.

Despite those attempts to keep his talent under wraps, by the time the magazine profiled him in April of 1970 he had made a splash at Woodstock and the world had noticed that he “knows just when to shout, just when to pout, just when to let a phrase die with a low, sad whimper.”

Though TIME noted that it might seem strange for a Brit to sing the blues, Cocker explained why it wasn’t so weird after all:

Cocker is his real last name, but “Joe” is…

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