On April 26, music fans – and, in particular, Joe Cocker fans – across the globe will gather together for the Cocker Power Spectacular, a live streaming, multimedia celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Joe Cocker: Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour. The event will be hosted by renowned rock ‘n’ roll photographer Linda Wolf, whose remarkable new book, TRIBUTE: Cocker Power (Insight Editions), chronicles both the sensational period in music history through hundreds of stunning photos (many never before seen) and intimate, behind-the-scenes stories, plus photos and stories from the 2015 Tribute Concert. TRIBUTE: Cocker Power will be released on Tuesday, April 28.
In addition to offering her own personal stories from the Joe Cocker: Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, Wolf will interview a host of original MD&E band members, along with artists who participated in the Lockn’ Festival tribute concert. The live streamed event will be broadcast Sunday, April 26, at 1pm PST/ 4pm EST on the Cocker Power Book website as well as on YouTube and Facebook.
“We were a musical traveling circus, and my role was to document it,” recalls Wolf, who traveled with the band and assorted girlfriends, children, tech crew and a dog (aboard a private jet that featured “Cocker Power” painted on its side) and captured the onstage/offstage exploits of the revue during their two-month trek across America. “It felt like unrestrained freedom; everyone giving 100 percent of themselves. The musicianship, communal feeling and excitement were over the top, and there was a total feeling of ‘we’re in this together.’ Of course, there were the two great leaders – Joe Cocker, who was the major voice and star, and Leon Russell, who was the brilliant conductor and musician. Both of them gave everything they had to the show, and brought us all along with them. Everyone was so incredibly talented and in it.”
Beyond the musicianship, Wolf remembers the experience as feeling like a grand summation of the values of the 1960s. “We had all gone through the last decade as a tribe of people who were involved in many of the social movements, from civil rights, to anti-war and anti-nuclear movements to women’s liberation, meditation and yoga. We were the be-here-now, spiritual, sexual and chemical explorers so classic of those times. In many ways, the people on the tour expressed the culmination of immense transformation of the era. The ‘70s were just beginning, and we didn’t know what lay ahead.”
By 2015, Wolf had already begun the process of digitizing the more than 4,000 photos of the 1970 tour when she received an invitation to reprieve her role as photographer for the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s all-star Joe Cocker tribute show at Virginia’s Lockn’ Festival. “What was funny was how involved I actually became,” she says. “The festival organizer, Dave Frey, said, ‘By the way, we’re looking to get a lot of the original players. Do you have these people’s numbers?’ I was glad to help out.”
The 2015 tribute concert was to feature Joe Cocker, who passed away in 2014, but it did include key members of the original band, such as Russell, keyboardist Chris Stainton, and singers Rita Coolidge and Claudia Lennear. In addition, the show featured former Traffic guitarist Dave Mason, guitarist Doyle Bramhall II and Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson.
Joining Wolf for the Cocker Power Spectacular live stream event will be a fascinating array of talents beamed in from their respective locales, including Jim Keltner, Claudia Lennear, Rita Coolidge, Pamela Polland, Dave Mason, Warren Haynes, Doyle Bramhall II, Peter Nicholls, Tim LeFebvre, Matthew Moore, Bobby Jones, Shannon McNally, Kebbi Williams Ephraim Owens, Mike Mattison, Mitch Chakour and Heather Wolf. The session will also feature a taped interview with Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.
The Cocker Power Spectacular is presented by Laudable Productions, whose founder and president Kyle Homstead reveals, “Originally, Linda was going to do a physical book tour and we were going to produce an event that would include storytelling and immersive visuals, and we were working on presenting music with Mitch Chakour, who was Joe’s bandleader for many years. The Coronavirus changed all that, and we quickly pivoted to creating an online event.”
In some ways, Homstead sees a plus side to the streaming event: “Now people from all over the world can tune in and have the same kind of experience they would have from a normally produced physical show. Linda has put together a timeline that will take the audience back to what was happening in the country in 1970. Through the magic of her lens and her incredible treasure trove of images and anecdotes, she’ll walk viewers through the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour in a way that only she can.”
Wolf, who hosted a roundtable discussion for the Lockn’ Festival tribute, is looking forward to bringing an interactive conversation to the Cocker Power Spectacular. “These are beautiful people who are open to share their personal stories,” she says. “During the live portion of the Spectacular, we’ll have a conversation between the audience and the musicians – taking questions submitted via Facebook before and during the show. We also encourage audience members to share their recollections of the MD & E tour. It was such a pivotal time. I think it’ll be quite exciting for everybody and bring forth their own memories.”
For more information, please visit: https://cockerpowerbook.com/spectacular