For many, the tragic comedian John Belushi’s most memorable performance was an indelible imitation of the British singer Joe Cocker–a writhing, spasmodic, cathartic, all-in stage masterpiece that had Belushi/Cocker singing “With A Little Help From My Friends” on Saturday Night Live before collapsing on to the floor, utterly spent. Was it funny, or serious? Doesn’t matter. It was a beautiful thing. Like Cocker himself, a master of vocal emotion.
Few watching at the time would have thought that Joe Cocker, who once said “drugs were everywhere and I just dived in head first,” would have outlived Belushi. And by a staggering 32 years. But Belushi’s demons were still something of a secret, and Cocker laid his bare nightly on stage. Cocker died today at age 70.