Listening To: Joe Cocker and Leon Russell
I’ve developed a total fascination with Joe Cocker and Leon Russell’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour from 1970.
Both classics in their own right, Cocker and Russell teamed up for this legendary tour, for which Russell, the musical genius with his iconic long grey hair and top hat, fronted Cocker’s band and was musical director, coming up with all the live arrangements for their 21-person band/chorus (I think this may have inspired Edward Sharpe, don’t you think?).
The tour was also filmed and made into a documentary, tracking the band and it’s hippie-commune 40-member entourage around the country to sold-out shows, complete with backstage footage and interviews. Sort of a real-life version of the movie Almost Famous, no??
Plus, the set list (which also became the album by the same name, from the show played at the Fillmore East) is incredible, including not only Cocker and Russell’s hits, but also covers of the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and others.
This last video, Darlin’ Be Home Soon, is some of the footage from the film– a backstage rehearsal. I particularly love the last minute or so with the split-screen of them boarding their plane and the rehearsal, and the little bit of the mom talking to the kids at the very end. Very Almost Famous.