Parkinson Powers the Hub for Joe Cocker - blog post image

Parkinson Powers the Hub for Joe Cocker

On April 7 Doug Parkinson and his band played the Blue Mountains Theatre in Springwood. This was the last concert in the Doug Parkinson Honours Joe Cocker tour which commenced in early 2017. The gig was well attended, with over 300 people in attendance. He, as part of the 8-piece band, played two sets, for a total of two hours on the stage.

Doug has an enormous amount of respect for Cocker’s body of work, and quite a bit in common with the man himself. Theywere both born in steel towns - Doug in Newcastle, Australia. and Joe in Sheffield, England. Over the years they’ve both been interpreters of other people’s songs (rather than songwriters), with powerful gravelly voices.

The band consisted of Doug on lead vocals and on bass – Leon Gaer, guitar – Dave Longo, drums – Gordon Rytmeister, piano and keyboard – Stefan Nowak,saxophone – Ross Middleton, and finally on backing vocals – Carol Starkey and Carmel Masiti.


Image courtesy of South Coast Register

The first set consisted of Doug’s interpretations of a whole range of material, from B.B King’s ‘Let The Good Times Roll’, Chuck Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, The Spinners ‘I’ll Be Around’, The Animals ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, Al Hibbler’s ‘Unchained Melody’, the Ray Charles version of ‘You Don’t Know Me’, and the Beatles ‘Dear Prudence'. 

The Joe Cocker tribute comprised the entire second set. Tracks included‘Delta Lady’, ‘Up Where We Belong’ (the duet with Jennifer Warnes which reached the number one position in several countries in 1982), ‘The Letter’, ‘Feeling Alright’, ‘You Are So Beautiful’, ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’, and ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’.

Doug shared several intriguing, often humorous personal anecdotes, augmented by some delightfully irksome Dad jokes.He tells, for example, how from the age of 15 he worked as a copyboy for the Daily Telegraph from 2-11pm, said hours standing him in good stead for his future life as a rock ‘n’ roller. When he and Focus back in ’69 brought their recording of ‘Dear Prudence’ to their record company, the record executive declared that he hated it and it would not be released. So, Doug said ‘Well if you don’t like our music release us from our contract’. Which they did, and Doug then took the record around the corner to the competition, who released it – thus giving them one of their biggest hits!

At the age of 71, Doug’s voice is as big as it was half a century ago, when as part of Doug Parkinson In Focus, he wowed the Australian record buying public with his number 5 hit cover of ‘Dear Prudence’. His version of this on the night brought the house down. The crowd went wild! Though the crowd surfing was kept to a bare minimum by the predominantly over 50 audience. All kidding aside, it was a thoroughly engaging performance by a seasoned showman.

Oh, and his take on Elmer Fudd singing the Springsteen classic ‘Fire’, and Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy’, was a scream. Fantastic night!


Paul Young


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