Joe Cocker was one of the most distinctive performers of the rock era, electrifying audiences with his gravelly voice and wild dancing. We remember Cocker’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Joe Cocker was one of the most distinctive performers of the rock era, electrifying audiences with his gravelly voice and wild dancing. His cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” gave the English singer his start in America, where he played at Woodstock and gained even more stateside fans. He became well-known for covering other musicians’ songs, putting his own soulful spin on the music. Further hits included “You Are So Beautiful” and “Up Where We Belong.” We remember Cocker’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2019: Ram Dass, beloved spiritual guru who was a pioneer of the 1960s psychedelic drug movement, dies at 88.
2014: Joe Cocker, England singer-songwriter whose hits include “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “You Are So Beautiful,” dies at 70.
Cocker catapulted to fame in the U.K. in 1968 with his distinctive cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends,” later used as the theme song for American television show “The Wonder Years.” His 1969 performance at Woodstock introduced him to American audiences, who helped make Cocker’s 1975 single “You Are So Beautiful” a No. 5 hit. Read more
2014: Christine Cavanaugh, U.S. voice actress known best as the voice of the title character in the movie “Babe,” dies at 51.
2010: Fred Foy, U.S. radio and TV announcer who narrated “The Lone Ranger,” dies of natural causes at 89.
The show’s live lead-in introduced its masked cowboy hero and his trusted horse with the line: “A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-Yo Silver!’ … The Lone Ranger!” Foy’s dramatic introduction and narration, performed in a powerful baritone, were so good it “made many people forget there were others before him,” said radio historian Jim Harmon, who called him “perhaps the greatest announcer-narrator in the history of radio drama.” Read more
2006: Dennis Linde, U.S. songwriter who penned Elvis Presley‘s 1972 hit “Burning Love,” dies of lung disease at 63.
2002: Joe Strummer, English singer and guitarist who fronted the punk band the Clash, known for their influential albums “London Calling” and “Combat Rock,” dies of an undiagnosed congenital heart defect at 50.
In 1976, he and a few of his bandmates were preceded onstage by a new act that would soon become infamous throughout England – a group called the Sex Pistols. Strummer was blown away by the band’s energy and the sense of danger their shows created. After speaking with Mick Jones in a meeting arranged by Malcolm McLaren managerial associate and self-proclaimed “inventor of punk rock” Bernie Rhodes, Strummer left the 101’ers and formed the Clash. As punk rock quickly became the biggest thing in England since the Beatles, the Clash found themselves swept up in the cultural moment. Read more
1998: Michelle Thomas, U.S. actress who played girlfriend roles on television sitcoms “The Cosby Show” and “Family Matters,” dies of cancer at 30.
1995: Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen, U.S. actress who played Prissy the maid in the film “Gone With the Wind,” dies at 84 of burn injuries sustained in a fire.
1993: Don DeFore, U.S. actor who played George Baxter on the television series “Hazel,” dies of heart disease at 80.
1989: Samuel Beckett, influential Irish poet and playwright who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in literature, dies at 83.
1987: Alice Terry, born Alice Frances Taaffe, U.S. film actress during the silent era whose movies include “Civilization” and “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” dies of natural causes at 88.
1985: Dennes Dale “D.” Boon, U.S. guitarist and vocalist who performed in the punk rock band the Minutemen, dies in a van accident at 27.
No one would epitomize this DIY ethic more than the Minutemen. They were soon signed to SST Records (hands down the most important indie label of the 1980s), and their early efforts were recorded with extreme economy. The band would book studios after midnight, lay down well-rehearsed tracks on previously used tape, and even record songs in the order they wanted them to appear on the album to spend less time mastering the record. D. Boon even contributed artwork for many of the band’s cover sleeves. Read more
1982: John Randolph “Jack” Webb, U.S. actor who portrayed Detective Joe Friday on the television crime drama “Dragnet,” dies of a heart attack at 62.
1979: Darryl F. Zanuck, U.S. film producer and film studio executive who won three Academy Award statues, dies of cancer of the jaw at 77.
1966: Robert Keith, born Rolland Keith Richey, U.S. actor whose films include “The Lineup,” “The Wild One,” and “Guys and Dolls,” dies at 68.
1965: Al Ritz, U.S. actor and a member of the Ritz Brothers zany vaudeville comedy team whose films include “The Gorilla” and “Hi’ya, Chum,” dies of a heart attack at 64.
1959: Gilda Gray, born Marianna Michalska, Polish-born U.S. actress and dancer who popularized a 1920s dance move called the Shimmy, dies of a heart attack at 58.
1944: Harry Langdon, U.S. comedian whose comedy films of the silent era include “The Strong Man;” “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp;” and “Long Pants,” dies at 60.
1943: Beatrix Potter, English writer whose beloved children’s books include “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” “The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin,” and “The Tailor of Gloucester,” dies at 77 of complications of pneumonia and heart disease.
It’s been 120 years since Beatrix Potter wrote one of the great children’s stories of all time, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.” Yet her sweet story of bunny adventures barely seems dated, and her charming illustrations are still beloved by children today. Just as enduring are the lessons learned by generations of children as they read about naughty Peter and his better-behaved sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail. The best children’s books entertain as they teach, and Potter’s stories did both with ease. Read more
1940: Nathan Weinstein, aka Nathanael West, U.S. author and screenwriter whose novels include “A Cool Million” and “Miss Lonelyhearts,” dies at 37 in an auto accident.
1939: Gertrude “Ma Rainey” Pridgett, aka the Mother of the Blues, U.S. blues singer who recorded “Bo-weevil Blues,” “See See Rider,” and “Black Bottom,” dies of a heart attack at 53.