|JOE COCKER / PATTO
Australian Tour, October 1972
Compiled by Alan Harvey
A copy of the 1972 tour advertisement from
PROMOTER: Harry M. Miller
Joe Cocker & The Chris Stainton Band
NOTE:Jim Horn and Bobby Keys worked extensively with The Rolling Stones including their third Australian tour in 1973. Backing vocalist Gloria Jones worked with and subsequently married Marc Bolan.
DATES, CITIES, VENUES:
Ironically, anticipation of the ill-fated 1972 Cocker/Patto tour was frenzied, if fan and music industry reports were any indication. A Go-Set headline on 7 October read COCKER AUSSIE TOUR SELLS OUT! - HARRY M. ANNOUNCES EXTRA TOUR DATES. The article, written by Molly Meldrum, goes on to say," Box plans open for a fourth Melbourne concert, a third Sydney concert and a second concert in Brisbane and Adelaide. The Joe Cocker tour looks set to break every touring record that has ever been set in this country -- that includes The Beatles Australian tour of 1964."
Meldrum was also very excited by Cocker's backing group, stating: "Included in the Mad Dogs will be two top brass players who just recently completed their American coast to coast Rolling Stones extravaganza. They are Bobby Keys and Jim Price."
In an earlier Go-Set articled it was also reported, "On October 30th Joe Cocker and 30 musicians will fly into Australia by courtesy of Harry M. Miller for nine concerts, kicking off with full gusto at Sydney's Horden Pavilion." Others in Cocker's group included"The Patto Group, Gerry Lockran, The Chis Stainton Band (formerly The Grease Band). Performances run for three and a half hours, and Cocker & Co. will bring about 15 tons of equipment."
Writing from London another Go-Set reporter, Mitch (Michelle O'Driscoll) was just as excited as Molly revealing,"As unbelievable as it may sound, it's true. On October 10th you'll be converted to Cocker power! When Joe's publicist told me in February that a tour was on the cards late '72 I just passed it off as a rumor. Now it's true!"
Joe himself confirmed to a reporter while on a US tour in May that,"We've only got three more gigs to do, then we're going to take a short break. But before we come to England to play some dates we hope to find time to record. After that we all go to Australia, New Zealand and a few other places in the East." (Go-Set 20.5.72)
SYDNEY CONCERT REPORT
"At the peak of the excitement the Horden Pavilion packed house of 5,500 stood as they applauded Joe while young girls rushed up onto stage to catch their star, Joe Cocker. Through his two song encore parts of the audience surged forward for a closer glimpse of Joe."
"Delta Lady brought the crowd even more to life as it unleashed any reserved excitement left. The song was rewarded honestly by thunderous applause. Joe Cocker wowed the audience with his now famous The Letter and High Time We Went. Happily Joe stumbled, rolled and jumped around the stage as he and the audience writhed together in the pleasure of this magic moment. Joe and the band left with this climatic number and thousands of strong lunged fans yelled for more. People flocked to the stage and the over-excited girls rushed closer to Cocker. With A Little Help from My Friends, a more appropriate title for an encore could never be found."
"For 15 minutes the crowd stamped and clapped for an ungranted encore. Joe Cocker's concert had warmed the hearts of many as they strolled homebound, drained of energy through the excitement. I'm sold, you'll see me there tomorrow Joe."
Molly Meldrum in his column wrote,"Well the lovely Joe Cocker and his planeload of friends finally arrived in AustraliaÖabsolutely whizzed through customs and have already done three riotous Sydney concerts. Everybody, but EVERYBODY who saw the Sydney concerts can't stop ravingÖ but I really think that Joe himself has summed up the tour. He said, after his first Sydney concert, that it was the best gig he'd done in years."<
COCKER & FRIENDS DRUG CHARGE, GUILTY! DEPORTED? TOUR CANCELLED?
Cocker and some of his group had been arrested on October 14 in their Adelaide hotel for"being in possession and use of Indian hemp." Cocker and the group had spent a few hours in gaol before being released on bail.
The Go-Set report by Ian Meldrum said:"At the time of going to press it would appear that Joe Cocker will not go on after the Thursday night concert at Festival Hall Melbourne. The Immigration Minister, Dr Forbes, on considering reports from the Adelaide's Magistrates Court regarding drug offences, signed deportation papers, which gave Cocker 48 hours to get out of Australia.">
The arrest of Cocker became a media frenzy with most (apart from the rock press) taking the high moral ground. John Sorell on ATV news said,"If I had my way Joe Cocker and his drugged up group would be airlifted straight back across the Pacific. I'd make sure their passports are marked, never to return. We don't want this type here, they are as welcome as a load of Argentine fruit fly!"
Another paper report said: "Deportation of Joe Cocker, rock singer, might only assure him of martyrdom in the eyes of many young people. But he represents another in the succession of overseas entertainers who have come here and demonstrated contempt for our laws. Who needs him or his examples?"
Go-Set however wrote a more thoughtful piece on the incident debating the use of drug laws, marijuana use and abuse and the conservative political interference in Cocker's case believing: "It is generally held that no ALP member would have thought of deportation." Go-Set concluded: "the episode has very badly tainted the reputation and character of a harmless little soul man, and made Australia seem like a pack of idiots."
THE ADELAIDE CONCERT
THE MELBOURNE CONCERT
Despite this, musically the concert was a success with the reviewer declaring: "At 9.30 the blacked out stage burst into color and there was Cocker and the Chris Stainton Band. The roar from the audience was deafening. It went straight into the first number and all one could say was WOW! The band and Cocker were everything that they had ever been made out to be."
Joe mentioned briefly the arrest and deportation problems but added,"Let's not talk about this shit, let's get on with the music."
Go-Set added:" ... for the next 20 minutes this particular Melbourne audience was treated to some of the best rock music that has ever been performed in this country. It was an incredibly powerful, intensely exciting performance."
Once again Cocker did an encore with A Little Help from
My Friends but after this"seven thousand odd fans just
refused to move. They clapped and cheered and stamped their feetÖthis
went on for minutes. There were some that felt it was over so
they left, it's a thing they'll regret. He did return. The whole
place literally rose to their feet screaming, and bang, it was
into Cry Me a River. He did without any fear of exaggeration
have the audience in the palm of his hand. The following 20 minutes
is something we'll never forget. It was finally over with the
audience completely delirious. "COCKER POWER HAD WEAVED
The Cocker tour, which was Patto's only visit to Australia, directly inspired two songs, Sausages and General Custer, which Patto recorded for their final unreleased LP Monkey's Bum, produced by Muff Winwood. Patto broke up a few months later, playing their final gig in May 1973. Like too many groups, the later lives of the members of Patto were blighted by tragedy. Mike Patto died of lymphatic leukemia in 1979; Ollie Halsall died from a drug-related heart attack in 1992. Clive Griffith and John Halsey were both badly injured in the same car accident; Griffith was left paralyzed and without no memory of his days with Patto; Halsey was left with a permanent limp, but now owns a pub and still plays drums for special occasions.
While the arrest and threatened deportation of Joe Cocker is a sour note in Australia's rock history, a Go-Set reporter summed up how most fans felt when he concluded,"I know that I speak for thousands of people throughout Australia by saying THANK YOU John Robert Cocker and friends for giving us one of the best rock music concerts ever staged in Australia. And ... SORRY."
Harry M. Miller wrote about his experiences promoting the tour in his 1983 memoir My Story:
"The Joe Cocker tour was a bizarre interlude which I saw as if through the wrong end of a telescope. Joe was one of the hottest rock acts in the world and the best white blues singer England has ever produced. He had just returned to performing after a long lay-off, to recover from the rigours of the road show he called 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen' which had stormed across the United States. By all accounts he was still wild and undisciplined, but his public following was so huge that when I was offered a management service deal, to handle an Australian and New Zealand tour he was planning, I suppressed the memories of the last rock 'n' roll tour I'd promoted. It seemed like a good way to get back into the rock 'n' roll business without risking too much of my own money. 'If it works,' I told Garry Van Egmond, 'we might even dust off the Elvis Presley file!'
Cocker came with his own musicians -- the Patto Group and the Chris Stainton Band: a party of thirty-two people with fifteen tonnes of sound equipment. Anyone who remembers my policy about the size of touring parties and their quantity of excess baggage would know I wasn't paying. In fact, after setting up the deal and priming the people in my organisation to administer the tour, I had hardly anything to do with it-which was how I missed all the drama.
The people who suffered the traumas were Garry [Van Egmond], Patti [Mostyn], Simon Dickie, Bob Gibson and Brian de Courcy, who all claimed to have aged during the three-week nightmare. Cocker and five of his party were involved in a drug bust in Adelaide and each fined $300 for possession of marihuana; Joe and his travelling girl friend were arrested after a fracas in a Melbourne hotel foyer; and then the Federal Government told Joe to get out of Australia. Newspapers ran front-page serial accounts of the Cocker tour as if World War III had broken out. But the remarkable thing was that, when Cocker did fulfil his concert obligations, he drew capacity crowds who gave him a rapturous response. Critics among the rock set treated the tour as if it were the Second Coming .
I saw only his opening concert in Sydney, but I didn't need a degree in rock 'n' roll to know that he was a superb performer , but his habits twitched my Judy Garland bruises and I decided to stay well clear. Understandably, Joe was puzzled that he never met his Australian promoter. 'Where is this guy Miller- does he exist?' he kept asking Garry. Yes, Joe, I was there- looking on from a distance.
We had to cancel concerts in Brisbane and Perth. Prodded by a deportation order, Joe flew home. His legal transgressions could not be excused, but he had the misfortune to be in Australia when the conservative knee-jerk was lethal and the Federal Government of the time was reacting to an electorate disillusioned with its political performance."
Corrections? More information? Did
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|REFERENCES / LINKS|
Harry M. Miller, with Denis O'Brien
Joe Cocker official site
Patto and Timebox Fan Site
Chris Stainton Band
Special thanks to Alan Harvey.
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