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A man who ploughed his own furrow

Michael Stuart marks the passing of one musical great and kicks another

Joe Cocker, the Sheffield-born rock and blues singer died yesterday in America, where he had lived for most of the past forty years. His distinctive rasping, soulful voice earned him many plaudits and fans, not least amongst journalists and major rock artistes around the world. Having always sung like an ancient rogue dirt-poor bluesman constantly on the road, to an extent he then lived like one. Through the late Sixties and early Seventies his excesses with drink and drugs were well documented and he was perhaps lucky to avoid going the same way as other doomed archetypal rock stars like Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.

For a representative and worthy obituary, today I commend to National Rust readers that written by Adam Sweeting for THE GUARDIAN

Paul2One of the many tributes I heard on the radio was one from Paul McCartney, formerly of the Beatles. A quarter of a century ago McCartney was described to me as “the most musically-talented individual I ever met” by someone who had spent a lifetime in the music industry. I once interviewed him in his dressing room before a Wings concert and was completely won over by his charm and apparent openness.

Sadly, in recent decades McCartney has grown a sizeable chip on his shoulder regarding the public’s perception that, in their legendary song-writing partnership, John Lennon was the artistic, edgy genius who added the grit and balls to his own prolific but Tin Pan Alley-style ability to knock out catchy tunes. He has been at pains to point out that he was the first Beatle to explore experimental modern art and both avant garde and electronic music.

Perhaps less worthily, over the years there have been media stories that he has even tried to re-write history by not only seeking to get the ubiquitous ‘Lennon-McCartney’ composing brand reversed to ‘McCartney-Lennon’ on songs that he (rather than John) originated, but specifically to get Yesterday attributed exclusively to himself.

I don’t know if these rumours are true, but he seemed to be at it again overnight.

His clip on Radio Five Live, expressing his sadness at the passing of Joe Cocker referred to “my song With A Little Help From My Friends” …




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About Michael Stuart

After university, Michael spent twelve years working for MELODY MAKER before going freelance. He claims to keep doing it because it is all he knows. More Posts