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Singer Joe Cocker dies at 70

ABOVE: A look back at Joe Cocker’s career.

TORONTO — British singer Joe Cocker died at his home in Crawford, Colorado after a battle with lung cancer. He was 70.

Cocker’s death was confirmed Monday by his longtime agent Barrie Marshall.

“It will be impossible to fill the space he leaves in our hearts,” Marshall said in a statement.

“He was without doubt the greatest rock/soul voice ever to come out of Britain and remained the same man throughout his life.”

Marshall called Cocker “hugely talented” and added he was “a kind and humble man who loved to perform.”

Famous for his gravel voice and unique performance style, Cocker is best known for his 1974 recording of Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful” and his hit duet with Jennifer Warnes, “Up Where We Belong.”

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Born John Robert Cocker in Sheffield, England, he didn’t pursue a music career until he was in his 20s. After singing in the short-lived group The Cavaliers, he adopted the stage name Vance Arnold and performed as Vance Arnold and the Avengers. In 1963, the band opened for the Rolling Stones.

A year later, Cocker signed a recording contract and soon released his first solo single, a cover of The Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead.”

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In 1968, Cocker enjoyed success with another Beatles cover, “With a Little Help From My Friends” — which he performed at Woodstock.

Cocker went on to perform in The Grease Band and Mad Dogs and Englishmen before focusing on his solo career. “You Are So Beautiful” reached No. 5 on the charts and put Cocker on the map.

“Up Where We Belong,” recorded for the soundtrack of 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman, was a smash hit and won both a Grammy and Oscar. Cocker’s version of Randy Newman’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On” in 1986 was featured in the movie 9½ Weeks.

“Joe Cocker is a legendary artist of rock and blues history and yet he was one of the most humble men I’ve ever met,” said Sony Music Entertainment chair Edgar Berger, in a statement. “His iconic voice will forever be etched in our memories.”

Rolling Stone included Cocker on its list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time in 2008 and UK magazine Mojo listed him as one of the Top 100 Singers of All Time in 1999.

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Cocker was honoured with the Order of the British Empire in 2007 for his contributions to music.

His last studio album was the 2012 release Fire It Up. It is not known how long the singer was ill but his last public performance was in London in June.

At a New York City concert in September, Billy Joel told the crowd Cocker was “not very well right now.”

Cocker married Pam Baker, a summer camp director, in 1987. He publicly credited her with helping him battle drug and alcohol addictions. He is also survived by brother Victor, stepdaughter Zoey Schroeder and grandchildren Eva and Simon Schroeder.