The passing of a Sheffield icon
The death of legendary Sheffield blues/rock singer Joe Cocker sees the passing of one of the city’s first popular music global icons of recent decades.
The former gasfitter grew out of the sixties – a decade that saw ‘Made In Sheffield’ take on a whole different guise from the moment Jimmy Crawford, the city’s first chart star, made his debut in the top twenty.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of the names that put Steel City on the map in the era and their passion for the city that made them is still as strong as ever.
In fact they’ve regularly made my job in communications very easy as it’s their success that sets Sheffield apart from so many rival towns and cities.
They wrote the blueprint that was followed with devastating effect with the rise of electro music in the 1980s, indie success in the 1990s and world beating Arctic Monkeys in more recent years.
The majority of the 1960s generation are still pursuing the passion they made an enviable career out; Joe Cocker was still gigging up until very recently.
Dave Berry, who first hit the charts not long after Jimmy Crawford, still performs relentlessly and has been cited as an influence on artists spanning the Sex Pistols to Adam Ant.
Artist Colin Duffield – responsible for some of the city’s most inconic posters of the era including The Beatles famous Azena show - is still weaving his craft despite being in his early 90s.
Peter Stringfellow was definitely one of the city’s most successful cultural exports of the decade and his success continues to this day.
Two clubs were pivotal to much of the Sheffield scene in 1960s: Peter Stringfellow’s King Mojo and Terry Thornton’s Esquire.
The Mojo legend lives on to this day.
The name packed The Leadmill in 2011 when I worked on a launch party that saw the likes of Peter Stringfellow, Dave Berry, guitar legend Frank White and his son Joel bring together hundreds of faces from the original club.
Sheffield’s popular culture has always been one of Steel City’s strongest and most enduring marketing assets and Joe Cocker’s passing has been a reminder of that.
There’s no doubt his name and music with live on for generations to come through re-releases, tribute acts and more.
But hopefully it will inspire others to follow in his footsteps and continue to give Sheffield its competitive edge.