Mad Dogs and Englishmen (1969–1971)
Despite Cocker’s reluctance to venture out on the road again, an American tour had already been booked so he had to quickly form a new band in order to fulfil his contractual obligations. It proved to be a large group of more than 30 musicians, including pianist and bandleader Leon Russell, three drummers, and backing vocalists Rita Coolidge and Claudia Lennear. The new band was christened “Mad Dogs and Englishmen“ by Denny Cordell after the Noël Coward song of the same name. His music at this time evolved into a more bluesy type of rock, often compared to that of The Rolling Stones.
During the ensuing Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour (later described by drummer Jim Keltner as “a big, wild party”), Cocker toured 48 cities, recorded a live album, and received very positive reviews from Time and Life for his performances. However, the pace of the tour was exhausting. Russell and Cocker had personal problems and Cocker became depressed and began drinking excessively as the tour wound down in May 1970. Meanwhile, he enjoyed several chart entries in the US with “Cry Me a River“ and “Feelin’ Alright“ by Dave Mason. His cover of the Box Tops‘ hit “The Letter“, which appeared on the live album and film, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, became his first US Top Ten hit.
After spending several months in Los Angeles, Cocker returned home to Sheffield where his family became increasingly concerned with his deteriorating physical and mental health. In the summer of 1971 the A&M Records single release appeared in the US of “High Time We Went”. This became a hit, reaching number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, but was not issued on an album until November 1972 on the Joe Cocker album.
Go below deck and type Joe Cocker in the Ship’s Search.
Video uploaded by U Tube user Andranik Azizbekyan