Interview: Massimo Galatone on his biography ‘THE ONE – THE ONLY MR. JOE COCKER’

Massimo Galatone book

Rosine Alleva – Rock At Night EU Editor

Since his performance on the legendary stage of the Woodstock festival, in august 69, JOE COCKER has always exerted an irresistible attraction on a good number of young artists. Despite his rebellious life, his experimentation with drugs and his taste for alcohol, a few decades later, he became a real survivor!!!

Massimo Galatone with Joe Cocker album (*)

Massimo GALATONE is 39 years old and is an Italian computer scientist, living in Rome and has always loved art in all its facets. He’s also a great musician and composer. The book was born from a necessity. Massimo wanted to have a document containing all the cultural information on Joe Cocker discography.

“THE ONE – THE ONLY MR. JOE COCKER” is a fantastic and very interesting work about Joe’s musical career. Here, all his songs and albums are carefully referenced and reviewed, including all the musician’s credits. The author spoke to certain people who were able to approach his idol, to collect a whole bunch of anecdotes and real-life situations. Massimo Galatone’s book is a work of passion and celebrates the bonds and connections, often hilarious, between the man with trembling hands and those who knew him.

Our colleague José Oliveira had the opportunity to meet and interview the hero of Sheffield on numerous occasions and agreed to participate in this beautiful book on Joe Cocker, providing some anecdotes and situations experienced with him. 

Joe Cocker & “Joe” Oliveira

Hereunder Massimo GALATONE interview followed by the English translation of José Oliveira’s participation. 

RAN -Among all the great icons of the 60s, you decided to choose a hero of Woodstock. Why Joe Cocker?  

Massimo Galatone -You know, there are many famous artists of the 60s-70s-80s. Joe Cocker is and above all was a unique and inimitable character. In his own way he was able to interpret personal pieces and those of others, making them equally unique and with a soul of their own. An example: Everybody Hurts by REM, has become a touching piece with his voice and perfectly conveys the idea of suffering.

 RAN – Were you able to attend a Joe Cocker concert?

 MG– Yes, I saw Joe Cocker three or four times and I always felt that Joe and probably a few others knew how to give themselves more live than in the studio, without being beautiful or well-groomed, only the emotion he sent you was important. I loved Joe Cocker and I still love him every day of my life with his music and his beautiful personality.

 RAN – Did you get any help from anyone in Joe’s management?

MG– I received many testimonies from friends and some of Joe Cocker’s collaborators, who gave me interviews and answers to some questions that I considered essential to better understand who Joe was as a person. At the same time, I never received any response from his record company regarding the creation of the book, despite having requested scoops or other information.

 RAN – Have you had any refusals to publish images of the artist?

 MG-Yes, they banned me from publishing photos and at the same time I received no response as to who I should contact for authorization. (Who but the company that holds the rights???). Luckily Linda Wolf (Joe Cocker’s official photographer from probably his most prolific period) allowed me to publish a couple of her photos of Joe.

RAN –  It is a very interesting work and deserves to be published in English, for wider distribution. Is there anything planned in this direction?

MG – I admit that I really wanted this job in Italy. There is no book dedicated to this great artist, not even translated by some official sources. So I created this compendium (that’s what I call it) about Joe, where song by song and album by album, I tell stories found online belonging to his life, difficult moments and splendid moments where the old lion from Sheffield was able to get up stronger. Yes, my book will probably be released in English, not that I wanted it but I have had many requests from many fans and collectors around the world. This makes me happy, not for the sales, but for the sole reason that Joe still transmits “power and passion” to the world. I conclude by saying that the English version will be translated with artificial intelligence alone and will not have some of the information present in the Italian “deluxe” version only. It will be released on May 20th on Joe Cocker’s 80th Birthday Day.

Translation from Italian with José Oliveira’s participation 

José’s Italian participation

Page 245 – How did you meet Joe Cocker?

José Oliveira: «The first time I met JC was through my hobby. I’m a music journalist, but for forty years my main job was as an engineer specializing in viticultural genetics. I worked at INRAE. One of my works contributed to a Franco-Italian consortium to decipher the grape genome. So far from rock ‘n roll! I knew all the German, French and Swiss promoters and the fact that I worked for the Portuguese magazine Musica & Som had always interested the artists, because it was a way for them to sell records in Portugal. I’m talking about the 70s, 80s. So my first meeting took place in Saarbrucken, Germany. Whenever he performed any concert in France, even Switzerland or neighboring Germany, I always asked for photo passes and interview requests.The fact that I knew most of the promoters made my job easier, which has become increasingly difficult these days for those starting out in this profession of journalism.»

Page 248 – What relationship did Joe Cocker have with you?

José Oliveira: «When I met him for the first time I felt the weight of emotion, because I was in front of one of my favorite idols. From the beginning, Joe was very kind to me, occasionally asking me questions about Portugal. I also knew I had a Woodstock Festival survivor next to me. There was a lot of emotion and respect.  But there was still plenty of beer everywhere. And I have never smoked anything (until today) and in my life I have drunk one, even two beers, but never strong alcohol!”

Page 249 – What was your relationship with the staff?

José Oliveira: «Joe Cocker was very popular in the world of entertainment. Through his records he established very strong relationships with his friends and made friends everywhere. The one with Catherine Deneuve, during the filming of the clip “N’Oublie Jamais” struck me a lot.”

Page 252 – What do you think made Joe Cocker a great musician?

José Oliveira: «In 1969, looking at the images of this fabulous Festival, everyone was struck by his gestures during the Beatles’ song “With a little help from my friends”.  Also, I have a great story about that Festival. My father had given me the green light to go and apply for my passport, to go to the States for this Festival. But, at the time, Portugal was at war in its African colonies. I was banned from leaving the country, but they told me I would be leaving soon for another festival in Africa, where they would pay for my trip and where there would even be fireworks! A few months later I was called up for military service. Two years in Portugal and in ’71 two years in Angola as a catering sergeant. But in ’72 we received a request from the general head of the armed forces in eastern Angola for a casting, with a view to forming a musical group, to play for the soldiers isolated in the bush and lead the Saturday night balls in the luxury hotel, for families of officers! I was then chosen to form this group and when I chose the name of the group, I took revenge. I found it easily: “WoodStock!”

Massimo Galatone’s cover book

Page 254 – Do you think Joe deserved more success than he got?

José Oliveira: «Joe Cocker had a life full of great adventures.  Knowing what he went through at the Woodstock Festival, I always considered him a true survivor.  Then, the possibility of having a very influential management in the world allowed him to get on the right path.  Furthermore, he always remained faithful to the formation of his group.  And the fidelity of a keyboard player like Chris Staiton is something exceptional.  He achieved much success with all of his albums and his concerts in Germany helped boost his career.  The most important thing, in my opinion, is not to forget it.”

Page 255 – Which Joe Cocker album fascinates you the most?

Massimo Galatone’s book back cover

José Oliveira: «When we approach this type of question, the answers are always a bit perplexing. But, without a doubt, the album that really touched me in my youth is “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”!  On this “Mad dogs” Tour, Leon was the bandleader for Joe’s show. Rather unintentionally, though, Leon Russel stole that show from Joe. That tour was the highlight of Cocker’s career and the launch of Russell’s.”

Page 259 – Tell me something no one knows about Joe Cocker!

 José Oliveira: «During his concert in Saarbrucken, in the 1980s, a French photographer friend and I invited Joe to accompany us across the border, to France, for some photography in a wheat field.  He was thrilled and agreed, as long as he had a beer to drink.  After some wonderful shots, we returned to Germany and when going through customs they asked for our passport.  Unfortunately, Joe had forgotten it at his hotel (in Germany).  The police didn’t let us pass.  We begged her, saying that he was Joe Cocker and that he had a concert that night across the border.  Nothing to do.  We then called his hotel and asked for his manager, who reached us carrying Joe’s passport and shouted terribly at him, among other things at us too.  Suddenly all the customs officers wanted his autograph and we exclaimed: “Fuck off” we turned the engine on full blast and headed straight to his hotel.  Joe continued to calmly drink his 

You can already find the Italian version of the book on any Amazon site and Massimo Galatone music!

(*) album “live at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne”.


Rosine Alleva

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