When Joe Cocker passed away recently I did what all devoted fans do and cranked up my Cocker collection to full-bore and reminisced on what had been. I missed out on his 1972 concert because Joe got deported from Australia before he made it to Brisbane. But the most unforgivable part is I have never taken another opportunity to see and hear him live on stage. So my music hard-drives are as close as I'm going to get to the real thing now.
My rock and roll heroes are no longer in the first bloom of youth and the unfortunate reality is their departures are going to get more frequent as we all get older. Whenever these doors to my youth close I take pleasure in my good memories and rue my missed opportunities – who knew Joe would get deported?
In more recent times a common theme has developed for me when these sad occurrences take place. I recall the 1973 song by Climax (but made really famous by the Righteous Brothers in 1974) titled, Rock and Roll Heaven, where it's speculated, "If there's a rock and roll heaven, Well you know they've got a hell of a band".
And what a band that really would be. The best part is we can have an ideal line-up from the available talent while we remember, not everybody's there yet!
Another significant problem I often consider is I'm not sure all my rock and roll heroes would have made it to heaven; even what might be a more forgiving 'rock and roll heaven'! To address this problem I devised a mystical place where we all can meet regardless of our earthly conduct. It comes from George Harrison, a prominent member of my Band when he sang about, Cloud Nine. Here, we will all be in a state of happiness, elation or bliss and can have music made by artists of our own choice in a place not dependent on our mortal behaviour.
Here is my Cloud Nine selection:
Lead Singers: Elvis (Rock), Joe Cocker (Blues and Soul) Lead Guitars: George Harrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan (Double Trouble) Rhythm Guitars: John Lennon, Brian Jones (Rolling Stones) Bass Guitars: Jack Bruce (Cream), John Entwistle (The Who) Drums: John (Bonzo) Bonham (Led Zeppelin); Keith Moon (The Who) Keyboards: Ray Manzarek (The Doors), Ian Stewart (Rolling Stones) Saxophones: Buddy Keys, Clarence Clemons.
As usual, I'm not searching for 'the best'. I don't seek technical perfection or expect my band members to be the top of the tree in their fields (although I think my drummers are the best ever). I put people in my Cloud Nine Rock Band because they have given me enjoyment when they were down here with us and continue to do so with their recorded legacy.
Before you answer, drag out your music collection and listen to all those favourites – even if it doesn't help you answer the question you will enjoy the experience.
What line-up changes would you make? Who's in, out, had their instrument changed or been relegated to back-up?