The living room of the Cocker family’s row house in the Crookes district of Sheffield, Yorkshire, resonated with the sounds of late-night rehearsals once their youngest son, Joe, formed his first group, The Cavaliers.
His parents were remarkably tolerant when the boys played in youth clubs and on the workers’ club circuit, and they practiced a lot. Then came Vance Arnold and the Avengers with Joe finally able to pass the drumsticks to a new recruit and focus on the lead vocal. He had already left school and had the daytime security of work as a gas fitter apprentice. Now it was 1961 and Sheffield had finally produced a pop star.
When Jimmy Crawford, former cartoonist Ron Lindsay, sneaked into the Top 50 with Love or money making it even better with tracking I love how you love me which made number 18. A modest start, but Dave Berry, borrowing the idol’s surname Chuck, would surpass him with eight hits in the UK from 1963 to 1966 and establish an international reputation that puts him in good stead today. . Dave rated Vance Arnold and the Avengers very highly, but Joe Cocker would have to wait patiently for his turn to achieve worldwide recognition for his portrayal of rock, blues, and soul.
In 1963, The Beatles played a dance hall in Sheffield as Please please me was shooting the list and Joe traveled to Manchester when idol Ray Charles made his UK concert debut. As for Vance & Co, they had a club residence and a following in pubs and dance halls. Appearing on a Sheffield City Hall bill with the emerging Rolling Stones did no harm either and a demo sent to Decca Records led to an audition in Manchester that paved the way for a debut single in 1964.