Sound 1973 – Interview réalisée par Frank Heath

After an eventful tour of Australia where he got bushed for drugs, Joe Cocker returned to England, the Chris Stainton Band broke up, and Joe went back into hiding. Last week he was back in his home town of Sheffield, ran into more police trouble when they decided to search his bike car and take away two cigarette ends for analysis, but also he was getting ready to start making music again. He talked to Frank Heath about his plans.

For the last nine weeks, Joe Cocker has been in Cornwall, living in a remote, sparsely furnished cottage on Bodmin Moor – just sitting and thinking.

This week he was back at his parents’ neat, terraced house in Crookes, Sheffield, among his family and the pubs and clubs of the North he knows well – the place he started singing. Starting all over again ?

Joe is thinking about the future, wants to sing again, but the time really wants just to sing without getting involved in the business hassles that have plagued him for so long.

With the Chris Stainton Band it seemed thats he’d got back into music again, but there were hassles – business hassles to start with, and then during a tour of Australia nearly a year ago, fate struck in the form of the Australian police who swooped on Joe’s hotel and busted him and the band for drugs. That cut the tour short, and that was the last ime he appeared on stage.

Back in England, Chris Stainton left the Chris Stainton Band – which not unnaturally fell apart. Joe was band-less again, and he went into one of his all-too frequent period of hibernation. He and girldfriend Eileen Webste originally went to Cornwall for a couple of weeks holiday, but they stayed longer.

« It was good there – there was no one to bother us and I was able to think » said Joe« … I needed the rest. That last American tour wasn’t so good, but now I cant’ wait to start again. »

But starting again this time, he’s a freer man. He has split from his management, Nigel Thomas Associates – a move that cost Joe 400,000 dollars. « I’m on my own now », he says, « and I’m not looking for a manager, not right away anyway. I have a record contract to fulfil, and I want to start on a new album. I want to get a band together, but now Chris has gone it’s difficult – we’d worked together, for a long time. I haven’t seen him for a while. I was doing session work, and I think he’s been working with Lou Reed. I’d like to find a band who haven’t done anything, real unknows, and do an album with them in some place like Manchester. I can’t go back to the States for a few months beaucause I’ve been banned from returning there after the drugs thing in Australia. But I want to do something completely new with the newt album – a new Joe Cocker. I have a few ideas, but nothing special in mind. I’d like to just write most of the songs and then see how it goes. »

Starting all oveer again – but then again he’d like to go back in time a bit, and perhaps work with the old Grease Band guitarist Henry McCullough again. « I’ve heard mixed reports about Wings, but Henry seems to be doing OK. He’s one person I would really like to do an album with, but I don’t suppose that’d be possible. »

Whatever happens, Joe is ready to move again : « I’ll head back to London to get things moving on the album as soon as I can. I’m looking forward to it – it’s been a long time. »