You see, I was still convinced that Joe Cocker appeared on, and won, for several weeks, Hughie Green’s “Opportunity Knocks” despite the fact that the rest of the world seems to have no recollection of this event.
So last week I borrowed Joe Cockers biography from our local library (aren’t public libraries great) and I’m halfway through reading it now…
No mention of “Opportunity Knocks” or indeed of dear dead Hughie.
This is Joe Cocker on the 1970 tour of America from which the live double album and feature length film “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” was taken, resulting in over $2 million sales in the USA of which Joe saw little, mainly due to the huge entourage that the tour attracted.
Not that he wanted a huge entourage, when the tour was planned he was to take his regular British “Grease Band” with him, mainly consisting of mates from Sheffield but a few weeks before the tour was to start he decided that it wasn’t going to start and sent his mates home to England telling them that the band was now defunct, and so was he.
His American management had other ideas though and with a three month tour sold out wouldn’t hear of a cancellation, with four days to go they took him into a studio where Leon Russell (piano, tall hat) was jamming with friends, Joe was a big fan and when Russell mentioned that they would tour with him he jumped at the chance – over the next four days their rehearsals int he studio attracted musicians from all over New York, most of whom were invited on the tour, it blossomed like a teenagers birthday party invitation list and when they finally took to the road Joe found that his band had at least three drummers (one of whom was Jim Capaldi) a large brass section, and eight female backing singers (one of whom was a young Rita Coolidge).
By the end of the tour Joe had taken an intense dislike to Leon Russell who had self-appointed himself as musical director and took centre stage as often as he could, they would never speak again and Russell refused to be interviewed for the biography – of the $10,000 that Joe was personally promised for the tour (1970 prices) he eventually received $869 after “miscellaneous expenses” had been deducted – the chemical suppliers to the tour possibly expending most of the money, see if you can spot an un-stoned person on stage on the vid.
Its a fantastic book of 1970’s rock and roll excesses, an ex-gas fitter from Sheffield for whom £8 a night for a gig was decent money was suddenly being presented with cheques for $107,000 for royalties in the first year of the “Mad Dogs” album, a cheque that he never cashed because he didn’t “do” money.