EXCLUSIVE From our Beatles expert Martin Lewis:
Cocker’s version of “With A Little Help From My Friends” was recorded in Spring 1968. It was his own arrangement. Guitar on it was by Joe’s old pal (from back in 1964) Jimmy Page. Also on the track B. J. Wilson (drummer of Procol Harum).
The Beatles heard the track in summer of 1968 while they were working on the White Album. They loved it. The single was released in UK on Regal Zonophone label – a small imprint of EMI. Permission was sought to use the image of Ringo from the film Yellow Submarine. Which had been released in UK in July 1968. The Cocker single was released in October 1968.
The ad featuring Ringo appeared in all the UK consumer weekly music papers. NME, Melody Maker, Disc, Record Mirror. It was an immediate hit in UK. Went to #1. Was released by A&M in USA. The ad was used in Billboard. Alas the single was not a hit.
But then Joe appeared at Woodstock in 1969 – and America discovered Joe Cocker.”
“It’s really sad to hear about Joe’s passing. He was a lovely northern lad who I loved a lot and, like many people, I loved his singing. I knew him through the years as a good mate and I was so sad to hear that he had been ill and really sad to hear today that he had passed away. He was a great guy, a lovely guy who brought so much to the world and we’ll all miss him.
“I was especially pleased when he decided to cover With A Little Help From My Friends and I remember him and [producer] Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Savile Row and playing me what they’d recorded and it was just mind-blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful for him for doing that.”
“Goodbye and God bless to Joe Cocker from one of his friends peace and love. R.”