Grammy-winning rocker Joe Cocker has promised that “Delta Lady,” his iconic ballad written by Oklahoma native Leon Russell, will be part of his set when he plays tonight at Oklahoma City’s Zoo Amphitheatre, 2101 NE 50.
Cocker recorded “Delta Lady” for his 1969 solo album “Joe Cocker!,” and the next year, he and Uncle Leon put together a 40-piece band and toured the world as Mad Dogs & Englishmen. That run resulted in a hit movie and one of the bestselling albums of Cocker’s career.
It also made a star out of Russell, but Cocker hasn’t spoken to the Oklahoma-born Mad Dogs bandleader in 42 years, reports The Oklahoman‘s Entertainment Editor Gene Triplett.
“Well, you know, it was well publicized at the time that we kind of fell out at the end of the tour,” Cocker told Gene in a recent interview. “I don’t know what it was. It was 1970 and you know, I mean, for me, I’m just a kid from Sheffield who came over from England and, you know, going into all the wrong substances too quickly. And by the end of the tour I was pretty much a wreck. I’ll own up to it.
“But I’ve never blamed it on Leon. I’ve always thought he was an incredible pianist and writer. But he did, he left a message one time saying, ‘Tell Joe I’m ready to put Mad Dogs together again.’ But I said, ‘I’m not.’ ’Cause I just didn’t wanna go. You know, the pressure I took. Being the front man on that package, even though it was Mad Dogs and Englishmen, my name was always at the fore and I did all the press on that tour. And I just didn’t want to. It’s not like putting the Eagles together, you know what I mean? … I mean there’s nothing to say I wouldn’t work with Leon again. He did that thing with Elton John recently. They came up with some good stuff.”
To read more of Gene’s feature on Cocker, click here.
Along with “Delta Lady,” Cocker, 68, promised that he will belt plenty of his big hits at tonight’s show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. with openers Huey Lewis & The News.
“We blast ’em hot and hard, with ‘Feelin’ Alright,’ ‘You Are So Beautiful,’ ‘Up Where We Belong,’ ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On,’ ‘Unchain My Heart’ … We kind of swing through a few memories there.”
For more information, go to www.zooamp.com.