Barbara Joan “Barbra” Streisand born April 24, 1942 is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and filmmaker.
Her career spanning six decades, she has become an icon in multiple fields of entertainment, and has been recognized with two Academy Awards, ten Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards including one Daytime Emmy, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, four Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and nine Golden Globes.
She is among a small group of entertainers who have been honored with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award, and is one of only two artists who have also won a Peabody.
Streisand is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with more than 68.5 million albums in the United States and with a total of 145 million records sold worldwide, (The only female in the top ten, and the only artist outside of the rock ‘n’ roll genre.) making her the best-selling female artist among the top-selling artists recognized by the Recording Industry Association of America
After beginning a successful recording career in the 1960s, Streisand ventured into film by the end of that decade. She starred in the critically acclaimed Funny Girl, for which she won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.
Her other films include The Owl and the Pussycat, The Way We Were, and A Star Is Born, for which she received her second Academy Award, composing music for the love theme “Evergreen”, the first woman to be honored as a composer.
With the release of Yentl in 1983, Streisand became the first woman to write, produce, direct, and star in a major studio film.
The film won an Oscar for Best Score and a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Musical; Streisand received the Golden Globe Award for Best Director, the first (and to date only) woman to win that award.
The RIAA and Billboard recognize Streisand as holding the record for the most top 10 albums of any female recording artist: a total of 34 since 1963. According to Billboard, Streisand holds the record for the female with the most number one albums .
Billboard also recognizes Streisand as the greatest female of all time on its Billboard 200 chart and one of the greatest artists of all time on its Hot 100 chart.
Streisand is the only recording artist to have a number-one album in each of the last six decades, having released 53 gold albums, 31 platinum albums, and 14 multi-platinum albums in the United States.
Barbra streisand ( barbara)
Barbara Joan Streisand was born on April 24, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Diana (born Ida Rosen) and Emanuel Streisand. Her mother had been a soprano singer in her youth and considered a career in music, but later became a school secretary.
Her father was a high school teacher at the same school, where they first met. Her paternal grandparents emigrated from Galicia (Poland–Ukraine) and her maternal grandparents from the Russian Empire, where her grandfather had been a cantor.
Her father earned a master’s degree from City College of New York in 1928 and was considered athletic and handsome. As a student, he spent his summers outdoors, once working as a lifeguard and another hitchhiking through Canada. “He’d try anything,” his sister Molly said. “He wasn’t afraid of anything.” He married Ida in 1930, two years after graduating, and became a highly respected educator with a focus on helping underprivileged and delinquent youth.
In August 1943, a few months after Streisand’s first birthday, her father died suddenly at age 34 from complications from an epileptic seizure, possibly the result of a head injury years earlier.
The family fell into near-poverty, with her mother working as a low-paid bookkeeper.
As an adult, Streisand remembered those early years as always feeling like an “outcast,” explaining, “Everybody else’s father came home from work at the end of the day. Mine didn’t.”
Her mother tried to pay their bills but could not give her daughter the attention she craved: “When I wanted love from my mother, she gave me food,” Streisand says.
Barbra Streisand the 70s
Streisand recalls that her mother had a “great voice” and sang semi-professionally on occasion, in her operatic soprano voice. During a visit to the Catskills when Streisand was thirteen, she told Rosie O’Donnell, she and her mother recorded some songs on tape. That session was the first time Streisand ever asserted herself as an artist, which also became her “first moment of inspiration” as an artist.
She has an older brother, Sheldon, and a half-sister, the singer Roslyn Kind, from her mother’s remarriage to Louis Kind in 1949. Roslyn is nine years younger than Streisand.
Streisand began her education at the Jewish Orthodox Yeshiva of Brooklyn when she was five. There, she was considered to be bright and extremely inquisitive about everything; however, she lacked discipline, often shouting answers to questions out of turn.
She next entered Public School 89 in Brooklyn, and during those early school years began watching television and going to movies. Watching the glamorous stars on the screen, she was soon entranced by acting and now hoped someday to become an actress, partly as a means of escape: “I always wanted to be somebody, to be famous . . .You know, get out of Brooklyn.
Streisand became known by others in the neighborhood for her voice. With the other kids she remembers sitting on the stoop in front of their flat and singing: “I was considered the girl on the block with the good voice.” That talent became a way for her to gain attention. She would often practice her singing in the hallway of her apartment building which gave her voice an echoing quality.
She made her singing debut at a PTA assembly, where she became a hit to everyone but her mother, who was mostly critical of her daughter. Young Streisand was invited to sing at weddings and summer camp, along with having an unsuccessful audition at MGM records when she was nine. By the time she was thirteen, her mother began supporting her talent, helping her make a four-song demo tape, including “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” and “You’ll Never Know.”
Although she knew her voice was good and she liked the attention, becoming an actress was her main objective. That desire was made stronger when she saw her first Broadway play, The Diary of Anne Frank, when she was fourteen. The star in the play was Susan Strasberg, whose acting she wanted to emulate if ever given the chance.
To help achieve that goal, Streisand began spending her spare time in the library, studying the biographies of various stage actresses such as Eleanora Duse and Sarah Bernhardt. In addition, she began reading novels and plays, including some by Shakespeare and Ibsen, and also on her own, studied the acting theories of Konstantin Stanislavski and Michael Chekhov.
She attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn in 1955 where she became an honor student in modern history, English, and Spanish. She also joined the Freshman Chorus and Choral Club, where she sang with another choir member and classmate, Neil Diamond.
Diamond recalls, “We were two poor kids in Brooklyn. We hung out in the front of Erasmus High and smoked cigarettes.” The school was near an art-movie house, and he recalls that she was always aware of the films they were showing, while he wasn’t as interested.
During the summer of 1957 she got her first stage experience as a walk-on at the Playhouse in Malden Bridge, New York. That small part was followed by a role as the kid sister in Picnic and one as a vamp in Desk Set.
She returned to school in Brooklyn but never took dramatic arts classes, preferring instead to gain some real-world stage experience. To that end, in her sophomore year, she took a night job at the Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village helping backstage. When she was a senior, she rehearsed for a small part in Driftwood, a play staged in a midtown attic space.
At age sixteen, she graduated from Erasmus Hall in January 1959, and despite her mother’s pleas that she stay out of show business, she immediately set out trying to get roles on the New York City stage.
After renting a small apartment on 48th street, in the heart of the theater district, she accepted any job she could involving the stage, and at every opportunity, she “made the rounds” of the casting offices.
At sixteen, then living on her own, Streisand’s youth and ambition worked in her favor, but she lacked a mature woman’s physical features which were needed for serious female roles. She therefore took various menial jobs to have some income.
At one period, she lacked a permanent address, and found herself sleeping at the home of friends or anywhere else she could set up the army cot she carried around to save on rent expense. When desperate, she would return to her mother’s flat in Brooklyn for a home-cooked meal.
However, her mother would be horrified by her daughter’s “gypsy-like lifestyle,” wrote biographer Karen Swenson, and again begged her to give up trying to get into show business;
but Streisand took her mother’s pleadings as even more reason to keep trying: “My desires were strengthened by wanting to prove to my mother that I could be a star.”
She took a job as an usher at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater for The Sound of Music, early in 1960. During the run of the play, she heard that the casting director was auditioning for more singers, and it marked the first time she sang in pursuit of a job.
Although the director felt she was not right for the part, he encouraged her to begin including her talent as a singer on her résumé when looking for other work.
That suggestion prodded Streisand to think seriously about a singing career, in addition to acting. She asked her boyfriend, Barry Dennen, to tape her singing, copies of which she could then give out to possible employers. Dennen had acted with her briefly in an off-Broadway play, but had no reason to think she had any talent as a singer, and she never mentioned it. Nevertheless, he agreed and found a guitarist to accompany her:
We spent the afternoon taping, and the moment I heard the first playback I went insane. . . . This nutty little kook had one of the most breathtaking voices I’d ever heard . . . when she was finished and I turned off the machine, I needed a long moment before I dared look up at her.
Dennen grew enthusiastic and he convinced her to enter a talent contest at the Lion, a gay nightclub in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. She performed two songs, after which there was a “stunned silence” from the audience, followed by “thunderous applause” when she was pronounced the winner.
She was invited back and sang at the club for several weeks.
It was during this time that she dropped the second “a” from her first name, switching from “Barbara” to “Barbra”, due to her dislike of her original name.
Nightclub shows and Broadway stage
Streisand was next asked to audition at the Bon Soir nightclub, after which she was signed up at $125 a week. It became her first professional engagement, in September 1960, where she was the opening act for comedian Phyllis Diller. She recalls it was the first time she had been in that kind of upper-scale environment: “I’d never been in a nightclub until I sang in one.”
Dennen now wanted to expose Streisand to his vast record collection of female singers, including Billie Holiday, Mabel Mercer, Ethel Waters, and Édith Piaf. His effort made a difference in her developing style, as she gained new respect for the art of popular singing. She also realized that she could still become an actress by first gaining recognition as a singer.
According to biographer Christopher Nickens, hearing other great female singers benefited her style, as she began creating different emotional characters when performing, which gave her singing a greater range.
This range allowed her to sing with a dramatic voice or a lighthearted, and playful one. Feeling more self-confident, she improved her stage presence when speaking to the audience between songs. She discovered that her Brooklyn-bred style of humor was received quite favorably.
During the next six months appearing at the club, some began comparing her singing voice to famous names such as Judy Garland, Lena Horne and Fanny Brice. Her conversational ability to charm an audience with spontaneous humor during performances became more sophisticated and professional.
Theater critic Leonard Harris, in one of his reviews, could already envision her future success: “She’s twenty; by the time she’s thirty she will have rewritten the record books.”
Streisand, however, never lost her desire to be a stage actress, and accepted her first role on the New York stage in Another Evening with Harry Stoones, a satirical comedy play in which she acted and sang two solos. The show received terrible reviews and closed the next day.
With the help of her new personal manager, Martin Erlichman, she had successful shows in Detroit and St. Louis.
Erlichman then booked her at an even more upscale nightclub in Manhattan, the Blue Angel, where she became an even bigger hit during the period of 1961 to 1962. Streisand once told Jimmy Fallon, whom she sang a duet with, on the Tonight Show, that Erlichman was a “fantastic manager” and still managed her career after 50 years.
While appearing at the Blue Angel, theater director and playwright Arthur Laurents asked her to audition for a new musical comedy he was directing, I Can Get It for You Wholesale. She got the part of secretary to the lead actor businessman, played by then unknown Elliott Gould.
They fell in love during rehearsals and eventually moved into a small apartment together above a seafood restaurant on Third Avenue. The show opened on March 22, 1962, at the Shubert Theater, and received rave reviews. Her performance “stopped the show cold,” writes Nickens, and she became Broadway’s most exciting and youngest new star.
Groucho Marx, while hosting the Tonight Show, told her that twenty was an “extremely young age to be a success on Broadway.”
Streisand received a Tony nomination and a New York Drama Critic’s prize for Best Supporting Actress.
The show was recorded and it was the first time the public could purchase an album of her singing.
Television appearances, marriage, and first albums
Streisand’s first television appearance was on The Tonight Show, then credited to its usual host Jack Paar. She was seen during an April 1961 episode on which Orson Bean substituted for Paar. She sang Harold Arlen’s “A Sleepin’ Bee”.
During her appearance, Phyllis Diller, also a guest on the show, called her “one of the great singing talents in the world.”
Later in 1961, before she was cast in Another Evening With Harry Stoones, she became a semi-regular on PM East/PM West, a talk/variety series hosted by Mike Wallace and Joyce Davidson.
Her appearance with Orson Bean and his other guest Phyllis Diller on The Tonight Show was preserved by kinescope and has been viewed online by many people who were not alive in 1961. None of the video of Streisand on PM East/PM West was preserved for posterity.
In May 1962, Streisand appeared on The Garry Moore Show, where she sang “Happy Days Are Here Again” for the first time. Her sad, slow version of the 1930s upbeat Democratic Party theme song became her signature song during this early phase of her career.
Johnny Carson had her on the Tonight Show half a dozen times in 1962 and 1963, and she became a favorite of his television audience and himself personally. He described her as an “exciting new singer.”
During one show she joked with Groucho Marx, who liked her style of humor.
In December 1962 she made the first of a number of appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, was later a cohost on the Mike Douglas Show, and made an impact on a number of Bob Hope specials. Performing with her on the Ed Sullivan Show was Liberace who became an instant fan of the young singer. Liberace invited her to Las Vegas, Nevada to perform as his opening act at the Riviera Hotel.
Liberace is credited with introducing Barbara to Western American audiences.
The following September, during her ongoing shows at Harrah’s Hotel in Lake Tahoe, she and Elliott Gould took time off to get married in Carson City, Nevada. With her career and popularity rising so quickly, she saw her marriage to Gould as a “stabilizing influence.”
Her first album, The Barbra Streisand Album in early 1963, made the top 10 on the Billboard chart and won three Grammy Awards.
The album made her the best-selling female vocalist in the country.
That summer she also released The Second Barbra Streisand Album, which established her as the “most exciting new personality since Elvis Presley.”
She ended that breakthrough year of 1963 by performing one-night concerts in Indianapolis, San Jose, Chicago, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.
Streisand returned to Broadway in 1964 with an acclaimed performance as entertainer Fanny Brice in Funny Girl at the Winter Garden Theatre. The show introduced two of her signature songs, “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
Because of the play’s overnight success, she appeared on the cover of Time. In 1964 Streisand was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical but lost to Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly! Streisand received an honorary “Star of the Decade” Tony Award in 1970.
In 1966, she repeated her success with Funny Girl in London’s West End at the Prince of Wales Theatre. From 1965 to 1967 she appeared in her first four solo television specials.
Streisand has recorded 50 studio albums, almost all with Columbia Records.
Her early works in the 1960s (her debut The Barbra Streisand Album, The Second Barbra Streisand Album, The Third Album, My Name Is Barbra, etc.) are considered classic renditions of theatre and cabaret standards, including her pensive version of the normally uptempo “Happy Days Are Here Again”.
She performed this in a duet with Judy Garland on The Judy Garland Show. Garland referred to her on the air as one of the last great belters. They also sang “There’s No Business Like Show Business” with Ethel Merman joining them.
Beginning with My Name Is Barbra, her early albums were often medley-filled keepsakes of her television specials. Starting in 1969, she began attempting more contemporary material, but like many talented singers of the day, she found herself out of her element with rock.
Her vocal talents prevailed, and she gained newfound success with the pop and ballad-oriented Richard Perry-produced album Stoney End in 1971. The title track, written by Laura Nyro, was a major hit for Streisand.
During the 1970s, she was also highly prominent on the pop charts, with Top 10 recordings such as “The Way We Were” (US No. 1),
“Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)” (US No. 1),
“No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” (1979, with Donna Summer), which as of 2010 is reportedly still the most commercially successful duet, (US No. 1),
“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” (with Neil Diamond) (US No. 1)
and “The Main Event” (US No. 3), some of which came from soundtrack recordings of her films.
As the 1970s ended, Streisand was named the most successful female singer in the U.S. — only Elvis Presley and The Beatles had sold more albums.
In 1980, she released her best-selling effort to date, the Barry Gibb-produced Guilty. The album contained the hits “Woman in Love” (which spent several weeks on top of the pop charts in the fall of 1980), “Guilty”, and “What Kind of Fool”.
After years of largely ignoring Broadway and traditional pop music in favor of more contemporary material, Streisand returned to her musical-theatre roots with 1985’s The Broadway Album, which was unexpectedly successful, holding the coveted No. 1 Billboard position for three straight weeks, and being certified quadruple platinum.
The album featured tunes by Rodgers and Hammerstein, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Stephen Sondheim, who was persuaded to rework some of his songs especially for this recording.
The Broadway Album was met with acclaim, including a Grammy nomination for album of the year and, ultimately, handed Streisand her eighth Grammy as Best Female Vocalist.
After releasing the live album One Voice in 1986, Streisand was set to release another album of Broadway songs in 1988.
She recorded several cuts for the album under the direction of Rupert Holmes, including “On My Own” (from Les Misérables),
a medley of “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?”
and “Heather on the Hill” (from Finian’s Rainbow and Brigadoon, respectively),
“All I Ask of You” (from The Phantom of the Opera), “Warm All Over” (from The Most Happy Fella) and an unusual solo version of “Make Our Garden Grow” (from Candide).
Streisand was not happy with the direction of the project and it was ultimately scrapped.
Only “Warm All Over” and a reworked, lite FM-friendly version of “All I Ask of You” were ever released, the latter appearing on Streisand’s 1988 effort, Till I Loved You.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Streisand started focusing on her film directorial efforts and became almost inactive in the recording studio. In 1991, a four-disc box set, Just for the Record, was released.
A compilation spanning Streisand’s entire career to date, it featured over 70 tracks of live performances, greatest hits, rarities and previously unreleased material.
The following year, Streisand’s concert fundraising events helped propel former Pres. Bill Clinton into the spotlight and into office.
Streisand later introduced Clinton at his inauguration in 1993. Streisand’s music career, however, was largely on hold. A 1992 appearance at an APLA benefit as well as the aforementioned inaugural performance hinted that Streisand was becoming more receptive to the idea of live performances.
A tour was suggested, though Streisand would not immediately commit to it, citing her well-known stage fright as well as security concerns. During this time, Streisand finally returned to the recording studio and released Back to Broadway in June 1993.
The album was not as universally lauded as its predecessor, but it did debut at No. 1 on the pop charts (a rare feat for an artist of Streisand’s age, especially given that it relegated Janet Jackson’s Janet to the No. 2 spot).
One of the album’s highlights was a medley of “I Have A Love” / “One Hand, One Heart”, a duet with Johnny Mathis, who Streisand said is one of her favorite singers.
Barbra Streisand THE star is really borned
In 1993, New York Times music critic Stephen Holden wrote that Streisand “enjoys a cultural status that only one other American entertainer, Frank Sinatra, has achieved in the last half century”.
In September 1993, Streisand announced her first public concert appearances in 27 years (if one does not count her Las Vegas nightclub performances between 1969 and 1972).
What began as a two-night New Year’s event at the MGM Grand Las Vegas eventually led to a multi-city tour in the summer of 1994. Tickets for the tour were sold out in under one hour.
Streisand also appeared on the covers of major magazines in anticipation of what Time magazine named “The Music Event of the Century.”
The tour was one of the biggest all-media merchandise parlays in history. Ticket prices ranged from US$50 to US$1,500 – making Streisand the highest-paid concert performer in history. Barbra Streisand:
The Concert went on to be the top-grossing concert of the year and earned five Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award, while the taped broadcast on HBO is, to date, the highest-rated concert special in HBO’s 30-year history.
Following the tour’s conclusion, Streisand once again kept a low profile musically, instead focusing her efforts on acting and directing duties as well as a burgeoning romance with actor James Brolin.
In 1996, Streisand released “I Finally Found Someone” as a duet with Canadian singer and songwriter Bryan Adams. The song was nominated for an Oscar as it was part of the soundtrack of Streisand’s self-directed movie The Mirror Has Two Faces. It reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was her first significant hit in almost a decade and her first top 10 hit on the Hot 100 (and first gold single) since 1981.
In 1997, she finally returned to the recording studio, releasing Higher Ground, a collection of songs of a loosely inspirational nature which also featured a duet with Céline Dion.
The album received generally favorable reviews and, remarkably, once again debuted at No. 1 on the pop charts. Following her marriage to Brolin in 1998, Streisand recorded an album of love songs entitled A Love Like Ours the following year.
Reviews were mixed, with many critics complaining about the somewhat syrupy sentiments and overly-lush arrangements; however, it did produce a modest hit for Streisand in the country-tinged “If You Ever Leave Me”, a duet with Vince Gill.
On New Year’s Eve 1999, Streisand returned to the concert stage, selling out in the first few hours, eight months before her return.
At the end of the millennium, she was the number one female singer in the U.S., with at least two No. 1 albums in each decade since she began performing.
A two-disc live album of the concert entitled Timeless: Live in Concert was released in 2000. Streisand performed versions of the Timeless concert in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, in early 2000. In advance of four concerts (two each in Los Angeles and New York) in September 2000, Streisand announced that she was retiring from playing public concerts. Her performance of the song “People” was broadcast on the Internet via America Online.
Streisand’s most recent albums have been Christmas Memories (2001), a somewhat somber collection of holiday songs (which felt entirely —albeit unintentionally— appropriate in the early post-9/11 days), and The Movie Album (2003), featuring famous film themes and backed by a large symphony orchestra. Guilty Pleasures (called Guilty Too in the UK), a collaboration with Barry Gibb and a sequel to their Guilty, was released worldwide in 2005.
In February 2006, Streisand recorded the song “Smile” alongside Tony Bennett at Streisand’s Malibu home.
The song is included on Bennett’s 80th birthday album, Duets. In September 2006, the pair filmed a live performance of the song for a special directed by Rob Marshall entitled Tony Bennett: An American Classic.
The special aired on NBC November 21, 2006, and was released on DVD the same day. Streisand’s duet with Bennett opened the special. In 2006, Streisand announced her intent to tour again, in an effort to raise money and awareness for multiple issues.
After four days of rehearsal at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey, the tour began on October 4 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, continued with a featured stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, (this was the concert Streisand chose to film for a TV special), and concluded at Staples Center in Los Angeles on November 20, 2006. Special guests Il Divo were interwoven throughout the show.
The show was known as Streisand: The Tour.
Streisand’s 20-concert tour set box-office records.
At the age of 64, well past the prime of most performers, she grossed $92,457,062 and set house gross records in 14 of the 16 arenas played on the tour.
She set the third-place record for her October 9, 2006 show at Madison Square Garden, the first- and second-place records of which are held by her two shows in September 2000.
She set the second-place record at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, with her December 31, 1999 show being the house record and the highest-grossing concert of all time.
This led many people to openly criticize Streisand for price gouging, as many tickets sold for upwards of $1,000.
A collection of performances culled from different stops on this tour, Live in Concert 2006, debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200, making it Streisand’s 29th Top 10 album.
In the summer of 2007, Streisand gave concerts for the first time in continental Europe. The first concert took place in Zürich (June 18), then Vienna (June 22), Paris (June 26), Berlin (June 30), Stockholm (July 4, canceled), Manchester (July 10) and Celbridge, near Dublin (July 14), followed by three concerts in London (July 18, 22 and 25), the only European city where Streisand had performed before 2007.
Tickets for the London dates cost between £100.00 and £1,500.00 and for the Ireland date between €118 and €500.
The Ireland date was marred by problems, with serious parking and seating problems leading to the event’s being dubbed a fiasco by Hot Press. The tour included a 58-piece orchestra.
In February 2008, Forbes listed Streisand as the No.-2-earning female musician, between June 2006 and June 2007, with earnings of about $60 millions.
On November 17, 2008, Streisand returned to the studio to begin recording what would be her sixty-third album and it was announced that Diana Krall was producing the album.
Streisand is one of the recipients of the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors. On December 7, 2008, she visited the White House as part of the ceremonies.
On April 25, 2009, CBS aired Streisand’s latest television special, Streisand: Live in Concert, highlighting the aforementioned featured stop from her 2006 North American tour, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
On September 26, 2009, Streisand performed a one-night-only show at the Village Vanguard in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
This performance was later released on DVD as One Night Only: Barbra Streisand and Quartet at The Village Vanguard.
On September 29, 2009, Streisand and Columbia Records released her newest studio album, Love is the Answer, produced by Diana Krall.
On October 2, 2009, Streisand made her British television performance debut with an interview on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross to promote the album.
This album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and registered her biggest weekly sales since 1997, making Streisand the only artist in history to achieve No. 1 albums in five different decades.
On February 1, 2010, Streisand joined over eighty other artists in recording a new version of the 1985 charity single “We Are the World”. Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie planned to release the new version to mark the 25th anniversary of its original recording.
These plans changed, however, in view of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, and on February 12, the song, now called “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”, made its debut as a charity single to support relief aid for the beleaguered island nation.
In 2011, she sang Somewhere from the Broadway musical West Side Story, with child prodigy Jackie Evancho, on Evancho’s album Dream with Me.
Streisand was honored as MusiCares Person of the Year on February 11, 2011, two days prior to the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.
On October 11, 2012, Streisand gave a three-hour concert performance before a crowd of 18,000 as part of the ongoing inaugural events of Barclays Center (and part of her current Barbra Live tour) in her native Brooklyn (her first-ever public performance in her home borough). Streisand was joined onstage by trumpeter Chris Botti, Italian operatic trio Il Volo, and her son Jason Gould. The concert included musical tributes by Streisand to Donna Summer and Marvin Hamlisch, both of whom had died earlier in 2012.
Confirmed attendees included Barbara Walters, Jimmy Fallon, Sting, Katie Couric, Woody Allen, Michael Douglas and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as designers Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors.
In June 2013 she gave two concerts in Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv.
Streisand is one of many singers who use teleprompters during their live performances. Streisand has defended her choice in using teleprompters to display lyrics and, sometimes, banter.
In September 2014, she released Partners, a new album of duets that features collaborations with Elvis Presley, Andrea Bocelli, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Billy Joel, Babyface, Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, John Mayer, John Legend, Blake Shelton and Jason Gould. This album topped the Billboard 200 with sales of 196,000 copies in the first week, making Streisand the only recording artist to have a number-one album in each of the last six decades.
It was also certified gold in November 2014 and platinum in January 2015, thus becoming Streisand’s 52nd gold and 31st Platinum album, more than any other female artist in history.
In May 2016, Streisand announced the upcoming album Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway to be released in August following a nine-city concert tour, Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic, including performances in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and a return to her hometown of Brooklyn.
Her first film was a reprise of her Broadway hit, Funny Girl (1968), an artistic and commercial success directed by Hollywood veteran William Wyler. Streisand won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actress for the role, sharing it with Katharine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter), the only time there has been a tie in this Oscar category.
Her next two movies were also based on musicals, Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly!, directed by Gene Kelly (1969); and Alan Jay Lerner’s and Burton Lane’s On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, directed by Vincente Minnelli (1970); while her fourth film was based on the Broadway play The Owl and the Pussycat (1970).
During the 1970s, Streisand starred in several screwball comedies, including What’s Up, Doc? (1972) and The Main Event (1979), both co-starring Ryan O’Neal, and For Pete’s Sake (1974) with Michael Sarrazin. One of her most famous roles during this period was in the drama The Way We Were (1973) with Robert Redford, for which she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. She earned her second Academy Award for Best Original Song (with lyricist Paul Williams) for the song “Evergreen”, from A Star Is Born in 1976, in which she also starred.
Along with Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier and later Steve McQueen, Streisand formed First Artists Production Company in 1969, so that the actors could secure properties and develop movie projects for themselves. Streisand’s initial outing with First Artists was Up the Sandbox (1972).
From a period beginning in 1969 and ending in 1980, Streisand appeared in Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll, the annual motion picture exhibitors poll of Top 10 Box Office attractions a total of 10 times, often as the only woman on the list. After the commercially disappointing All Night Long in 1981, Streisand’s film output decreased considerably. She has acted in only eight films since.
Streisand produced a number of her own films, setting up Barwood Films in 1972. For Yentl (1983), she was producer, director, and star, an experience she repeated for The Prince of Tides (1991) and The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996).
There was controversy when Yentl received five Academy Award nominations, but none for the major categories of Best Picture, Actress, or Director. The Prince of Tides received even more Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay, although not for director. Upon completion of the film, its screenwriter, Pat Conroy, who also authored the novel, called Streisand “a goddess who walks upon the earth.”
Streisand also scripted Yentl, something for which she is not always given credit. According to The New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal in an interview with Allan Wolper, “The one thing that makes Barbra Streisand crazy is when nobody gives her the credit for having written Yentl.”
In 2004, Streisand made a return to film acting after an eight-year hiatus, in the comedy Meet the Fockers (a sequel to Meet the Parents), playing opposite Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Blythe Danner and Robert De Niro.
In 2005, Streisand’s Barwood Films, Gary Smith, and Sonny Murray purchased the rights to Simon Mawer’s book Mendel’s Dwarf.
In December 2008, she stated that she was considering directing an adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart, a project she has worked on since the mid-1990s.
In December 2010, Streisand appeared in Little Fockers, the third film from the Meet the Parents trilogy. She reprised the role of Roz Focker alongside Dustin Hoffman.
On January 28, 2011, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Paramount Pictures had given the green light to begin shooting the road-trip comedy My Mother’s Curse, with Seth Rogen playing Streisand’s character’s son.
Anne Fletcher directed the project with a script by Dan Fogelman, produced by Lorne Michaels, John Goldwyn, and Evan Goldberg. Executive producers included Streisand, Rogen, Fogelman, and David Ellison, whose Skydance Productions co-financed the road movie.
Shooting began in spring 2011 and wrapped in July; the film’s title was eventually altered to The Guilt Trip, and the movie was released in December 2012.
It’s confirmed that Streisand has been set to star in a new feature film adaptation of the musical Gypsy – featuring music by Jules Styne, a book by Arthur Laurents and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim – with Richard LaGravenese reportedly attached to the project as screenwriter. In April 2016, it was reported that Streisand was in advanced negotiations to star in and produce the film, which will be directed by Barry Levinson and distributed by STX Entertainment.
Two months later, it was reported that the film’s script had been completed and that production is aiming to begin in early 2017.
Barbra Streisand is set to direct the historical drama Catherine the Great, a feature biopic about the 18th-century Russian empress, based on the top 2014 Black List script, produced by Gil Netter.
Streisand is a mezzo-soprano who has a range consisting of three octaves and 2 notes from B2 to a D6.
However, she has been identified by Whitney Balliett of The New Yorker as “a contralto with a couple of octaves at her command, and she wows her listeners with her shrewd dynamics (in-your-ear soft here, elbowing-loud there), her bravura climbs, her rolling vibrato, and the singular Streisand-from-Brooklyn nasal quality of her voice — a voice as immediately recognizable in its way as Louis Armstrong’s.
Music writer Allegra Rossi adds that Streisand creates complete compositions in her head:
Even though she can’t read or write music, Barbra hears melodies as completed compositions in her head. She hears a melody and takes it in, learning it quickly. Barbra developed her ability to sustain long notes because she wanted to. She can mold a tune that others cannot; she’s able to sing between song and speech, keeping in tune, carrying rhythm and meaning.
While she is predominantly a pop singer, Streisand’s voice has been described as “semi-operatic” due to its strength and quality of tone. According to Adam Feldman of Time Out, Streisand’s “signature vocal style” is “a suspension bridge between old-school belting and microphone pop.”
She is known for her ability to hold relatively high notes, both loud and soft, with great intensity, as well as for her ability to make slight but unobtrusive embellishments on a melodic line. The former quality led classical pianist Glenn Gould to call himself “a Streisand freak”.
In recent years, critics and audiences have noted that her voice has “lowered and acquired an occasionally husky edge”. However, New York Times music critic Stephen Holden noted that her distinctive tone and musical instincts remain, and that she still “has the gift of conveying a primal human longing in a beautiful sound”.
Paul Taylor of The Independent wrote that Streisand “has sounded a little scratchy and frayed, though the stout resolve and superb technique with which Streisand manages to hoist it over these difficulties has come to seem morally as well aesthetically impressive.”
Reviewing Streisand’s most recent studio effort Partners, Gil Naveh of Haaretz described Streisand’s voice as “velvety, clear and powerful … and the passing years have given it a fascinating depth and roughness.
Streisand has been married twice. Her first husband was actor Elliott Gould, to whom she was married from 1963 until 1971. They had one child, Jason Gould, who appeared as her on-screen son in The Prince of Tides. In 1969 and 1970, Streisand dated Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
She started a relationship with hairdresser/producer Jon Peters in 1974. He went on to be her manager and producer. She is the godmother of his daughters, Caleigh Peters and Skye Peters.
Streisand dated tennis champion Andre Agassi in the early 1990s. Writing about the relationship in his 2009 autobiography, Agassi said: “We agree that we’re good for each other, and so what if she’s twenty-eight years older? We’re simpatico, and the public outcry only adds spice to our connection. It makes our friendship feel forbidden, taboo – another piece of my overall rebellion. Dating Barbra Streisand is like wearing Hot Lava.”
Her second husband is actor James Brolin, whom she married on July 1, 1998.
While they have no children together, Brolin has two children from his first marriage, including actor Josh Brolin, and one child from his second marriage.
Streisand changed her name from Barbara to Barbra because, she said, “I hated the name, but I refused to change it.”
Streisand further explained, “Well, I was 18 and I wanted to be unique, but I didn’t want to change my name because that was too false. You know, people were saying you could be Joanie Sands, or something like that. (My middle name is Joan.) And I said, ‘No, let’s see, if I take out the ‘a,’ it’s still ‘Barbara,’ but it’s unique.”
A 1967 biography with a concert program said, “the spelling of her first name is an instance of partial rebellion: she was advised to change her last name and retaliated by dropping an “a” from the first instead.”
Streisand has long been an active supporter of the Democratic Party and many of its causes.
In 1971, Streisand was one of the celebrities listed on President Richard Nixon’s infamous Enemies List.
Streisand is a supporter of gay rights, and in 2007 helped raise funds in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Proposition 8 in California.
In June 2013 she helped celebrate the 90th birthday of Shimon Peres held at Jerusalem’s international convention center.
She also performed at two other concerts in Tel Aviv that same week, part of her first concert tour of Israel.
In August 2016 she stated that if Donald Trump is elected President that she will either move to Australia or Canada.
In 1984, Streisand donated the Emanuel Streisand Building for Jewish Studies to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the Mount Scopus campus, in memory of her father, an educator and scholar who died when she was young.
Streisand has personally raised $25 millions for organizations through her live performances. The Streisand Foundation, established in 1986, has contributed over $16 million through nearly 1,000 grants to “national organizations working on preservation of the environment, voter education, the protection of civil liberties and civil rights, women’s issues and nuclear disarmament”.
In 2006, Streisand donated $1 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation in support of former President Bill Clinton’s climate change initiative.
In 2009, Streisand gifted $5 million to endow the Barbra Streisand Women’s Cardiovascular Research and Education Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Women’s Heart Center.
In September that year, Parade magazine included Streisand on its Giving Back Fund’s second annual Giving Back 30 survey, “a ranking of the celebrities who have made the largest donations to charity in 2007 according to public records”, as the third most generous celebrity. The Giving Back Fund claimed Streisand donated $11 million, which The Streisand Foundation distributed.
In 2012 she raised $22 million to support her women’s cardiovascular center, bringing her own personal contribution to $10 million.
The program was officially named the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center.
At Julien’s Auctions in October 2009, Streisand, a longtime collector of art and furniture, sold 526 items, with all the proceeds going to her foundation. Items included a costume from Funny Lady and a vintage dental cabinet purchased by the performer at 18 years old. The sale’s most valuable lot was a painting by Kees van Dongen.
In December 2011, she appeared at a fundraising gala for Israel Defense Forces charities.
Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford
Streisand was presented Distinguished Merit Award by Mademoiselle in 1964, and selected as Miss Ziegfeld in 1965.
In 1968, she received the Israel Freedom Medal, the highest civilian award of Israel, and she was awarded Pied Piper Award by ASCAP and Prix De L’Academie Charles Cros in 1969, Crystal Apple by her hometown City of New York, Woman of Achievement in the Arts by Anti-Defamation League in 1978.
In 1984, Streisand was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.
She received the Woman of Courage Award by the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Scopus Award by American Friends of The Hebrew University.
She received Breakthrough Awards for “making films that portray women with serious complexity” at the Women, Men and Media symposium in 1991.
In 1992, she was given the Commitment to Life Award by AIDS Project Los Angeles(APLA), and the Bill of Rights Award by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, the Dorothy Arzner Special Recognition by Women in Film, and the Golden Plate by the Academy of Achievement.
She was honored with the Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award from the ASCAP in 1994 and the Peabody Award in 1995, the same year she was accorded an Honorary Doctorate In Arts and Humanities by Brandeis University.
She was also awarded Filmmaker of the Year Award for “lifetime achievement in filmmaking” by ShowEast and Peabody Award in 1996, Christopher Award in 1998.
In 2000, President Bill Clinton presented Streisand with the National Medal of Arts,the highest honor specifically given for achievement in the arts and Library of Congress Living Legend
she also received the highest honor for a career in film AFI Life Achievement Award from American Film Institute and Liberty and Justice Award from Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Gracie Allen Award，First Annual Jewish Image Awards in 2001, and Humanitarian Award “for her years of leadership, vision, and activism in the fight for civil liberties, including religion, race, gender equality and freedom of speech, as well as all aspects of gay rights” from Human Rights Campaign in 2004.
In 2007, French President Nicolas Sarkozy presented Streisand with Legion of Honour, the highest decoration in France, and President George W. Bush presented her Kennedy Center Honors, the highest recognition of cultural achievement.
B Streisand and Omar Sharif
In 2011, she was given Board of Governors Humanitarian Award for her efforts on behalf of women’s heart health and her many other philanthropic activities.” by Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. She received the L’Oréal Paris Legend Award in 18th Elle Magazine Women in Hollywood. In 2012, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women Film Critics Circle.
She was accorded an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2013.
In that year, she was also recipient of the Charlie Chaplin Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Film Society of Lincoln Center as the only female artist to direct, write, produce and star in the same major studio film, Yentl
along with a Lifetime Achievement Glamour Awards.
In 2014, Streisand was on one of eight different New York Magazine covers celebrating the magazine’s “100 Years, 100 Songs, 100 Nights: A Century of Pop Music in New York”. She also received the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Board of Governors Award, the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast, and came first in the 1010 Wins Iconic Celebrity Poll by CBS in 2015.
In November 2015, President Barack Obama announced that Streisand would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States.
Streisand was inducted into and Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1976, Goldmine Hall of Fama in 2002, Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007, the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009, National Museum of American Jewish History and California Hall of Fame in 2010.
In 1970, she received a Special Tony Award named Star of the Decade,and selected as Star of the Decade by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) in 1980, Star of Decade by NATO/ShowWest and President’s Award by NARM in 1988.
That year she was also named as All-Time Favorite Musical Performer by People’s Choice Awards. In 1986, Life named her as one of Five Hollywood’s Most Powerful Women.
In 1998, Harris Poll reported that she is the “Most Popular Singer Among Adult Americans of All Ages.”
She was also featured on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll, the Top 100 Singers of all time by Mojo magazine, named the century’s best female singer in a Reuters/Zogby poll and “Top Female Artist of the Century” by Recording Industry Association of America in 1999.
In 2006, Streisand was one of honorees at Oprah Winfrey’s white-tie Legends Ball.
In 2011, the British tabloid The Sun ranked Streisand as “The 50 female singers who will never be forgotten”.
The Daily Telegraph ranked Streisand as the 10 top female singer-songwriters of all time.
A&E’s Biography magazine ranked Streisand as one of their favorite leading actress of all time,[she was also featured on the Voices of the Century list by BBC, the “100 Greatest Movie Stars of Time” list compiled by People,
VH1’s list of the “200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons of All Time”,
the “100 Greatest Entertainers of All Time”（ranked at #13） and the “Greatest Movie Star of all time list” by Entertainment Weekly, “The 50 Greatest Actresses of All Tim” by AMC, and Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists.
Billboard also ranked Streisand as the top female Jewish musician of all time. As a gay icon, Streisand was named by The Advocate as one of the “25 Coolest Women” and the “9 Coolest Women Appealing to Both Lesbians and Gay Men”, and was also placed among the “12 Greatest Female Gay Icons of All Time” by Out magazine.
She was recognized as one of the top gay icons of the past three decades by Gay Times.
During the first decade of the 21st century, the American Film Institute celebrated 100 years of the greatest films in American cinema. Four of Streisand’s songs were represented on AFI’s 100 Years…
100 Songs, which highlighted “America’s Greatest Music in the Movies”: “The Way We Were” at
“Evergreen (Love Theme From A Star Is Born)” , “People” , and “Don’t Rain On My Parade” . Many of her films were represented on AFI’s 100 Years… series. AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs, highlighting “the films and film artists that have made audiences laugh throughout the century,” ranked What’s Up, Doc? . AFI’s 100 Years…
100 Passions highlighted the top 100 greatest love stories in American cinema and placed The Way We Were at, Funny Girl at, and What’s Up, Doc? at . AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals highlighted the 25 greatest American movie musicals, ranking Funny Girl at
As one of the most acclaimed actresses, singers, directors, writers, composers, producers, designers, photographers, and activists in every medium that she’s worked in, Barbra is the only artist who is concurrently a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and Actors’ Equity Association, as well as the honorary chairwoman of the board of directors of Hadassah’s International Research Institute on Women.
Barbra Streisand in popular culture
References in television
On the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, in the recurring skit “Coffee Talk”, character Linda Richman, played by Mike Myers, hosts a talk show dedicated to, among other things, the adoration of Streisand. Streisand, in turn, made an unannounced guest appearance on the show, surprising Myers and his guests Madonna and Roseanne Barr. Myers also appeared as the Linda Richman character on stage with Streisand at her 1994 MGM Grand concert, as well as a few of the 1994 Streisand tour shows.
References in music
Sound clips of Streisand’s heated exchange with a supporter of former U.S. president George W. Bush were sampled in the 2009 Lucian Piane dance song “Bale Out”, making it sound as if she were arguing with actor Christian Bale (whose recorded outbursts during the filming of Terminator Salvation were the centerpiece of the song).
“Barbra Streisand” is a disco house song by American-Canadian DJ duo Duck Sauce (Armand Van Helden & A-Trak). It was released on September 10, 2010. The song peaked at number one in Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland and Austria. It became a top ten hit in Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, and Italy.
References on stage
Daniel Stern’s 2003 Off-Broadway play Barbra’s Wedding was set against the backdrop of Streisand’s 1998 wedding to James Brolin.
The 2013 comedy play Buyer & Cellar, written by Jonathan Tolins, is set in Streisand’s Malibu house cellar. A struggling actor finds a job there and one day meets the star. It is a one-man show starring Michael Urie that premiered at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre in April 2013.
References in fashion
In 1972, the modern hair crimping iron was invented by Geri Cusenza, the original founder of Sebastian, for Streisand’s hair.
In 1977, Streisand become the first woman celebrity to be on the cover of Playboy who was interviewed inside.
In 2011, Jennifer Aniston paid tribute to Streisand in a series of poses that recreated some of Streisand’s classic looks on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.
In 2013, Victoria Beckham revealed that Streisand was her own style icon. “She is the epitome of chic. She looked magnificent. She wears lots of Donna Karan, and she had on this fabulous Donna Karan dress that just draped perfectly. She had this gorgeous hair. She was just beautiful. I love her.”.
John Robert “Joe” Cocker OBE (20 May 1944 – 22 December 2014) was an English rock and blues singer, who came to popularity in the 1960s, and is known for his gritty voice, his spasmodic body movement in performance and his cover versions of popular songs, particularly those of the Beatles.
His cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” reached number one in the UK in 1968, and he performed the song live at Woodstock in 1969. His version also became the theme song for the TV series The Wonder Years. His 1975 hit single, “You Are So Beautiful”, reached number five in the US. Cocker is the recipient of several awards, including a 1983 Grammy Award for his US number one “Up Where We Belong”, a duet with Jennifer Warnes. In 1993 he was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male, and in 2008 he received an OBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music.
Cocker was ranked #97 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest singers list. Cocker was born on 20 May 1944 at 38 Tasker Road, Crookes, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire. He is the youngest son of a civil servant, Harold Cocker, and Madge Cocker. According to differing family stories, Cocker received his nickname of Joe either from playing a childhood game called “Cowboy Joe” or from a local window cleaner named Joe. Cocker’s main musical influences growing up were Ray Charles and Lonnie Donegan. Cocker’s first experience singing in public was at age 12 when his elder brother Victor invited him on stage to sing during a gig of his skiffle group. In 1960, along with three friends, Cocker formed his first group, the Cavaliers. For the group’s first performance at a youth club, they were required to pay the price of admission before entering. The Cavaliers eventually broke up after a year and Cocker left school to become an apprentice gasfitter while simultaneously pursuing a career in music.
In 1961, under the stage name Vance Arnold, Cocker continued his career with a new group, Vance Arnold and the Avengers. The name was a combination of Vince Everett, Elvis Presley’s character in Jailhouse Rock, (which Cocker misheard as Vance) and country singer Eddy Arnold. The group mostly played in the pubs of Sheffield, performing covers of Chuck Berry and Ray Charles songs. In 1963, they booked their first significant gig when they supported the Rolling Stones atSheffield City Hall. In 1964, Cocker signed a recording contract as a solo act with Decca and released his first single, a cover of the Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead” (with Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page playing guitars).
Despite extensive promotion from Decca lauding his youth and working class roots, the record was a flop and his recording contract with Decca lapsed at the end of 1964. After Cocker recorded the single, he dropped his stage name and formed a new group, Joe Cocker’s Big Blues. There is only one known recording of Joe Cocker’s and Big Blues on an EP given out by Sheffield College during Rag Week and called Rag Goes Mad at the Mojo. It contained a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “I’ve Been Trying” and a track of “Saved”. The Grease Band (1966–1969) In 1966, after a year-long hiatus from music, Cocker teamed up with Chris Stainton, whom he had met several years before, to form the Grease Band.The Grease Band was named after Cocker read an interview with jazz musician Jimmy Smith, where Smith described another musician as “having a lot of grease”.
Like the Avengers, Cocker’s group mostly played in pubs in and around Sheffield. The Grease Band came to the attention of Denny Cordell, the producer of Procol Harum, the Moody Blues and Georgie Fame. Cocker recorded the single “Marjorine” without the Grease Band for Cordell in a London studio. He then moved to London with Chris Stainton, and the Grease Band was dissolved. Cordell set Cocker up with a residency at the Marquee Club in London, and a “new” Grease Band was formed with Stainton and keyboardist Tommy Eyre. After minor success in the US with the single “Marjorine”, Cocker entered the big time with a groundbreaking rearrangement of “With a Little Help from My Friends”, another Beatles cover, which, many years later, was used as the opening theme for The Wonder Years.
The recording features lead guitar from Jimmy Page, drumming by BJ Wilson, backing vocals from Sue and Sunny, and Tommy Eyre on organ. The single made the Top Ten on the British charts, remaining there for thirteen weeks and eventually reaching number one, on 9 November 1968. It also reached number 68 on the US charts. The new touring line-up of Cocker’s Grease Band featured Henry McCullough on lead guitar, who would go on to briefly play with McCartney’s Wings. After touring the UK with the Who in autumn 1968and Gene Pitney and Marmalade in early winter 1969, the Grease Band embarked on their first tour of the US in spring 1969. Cocker’s album With a Little Help from My Friends was released soon after their arrival and made number 35 on the American charts, eventually going gold. During his US tour, Cocker played at several large festivals, including the Newport Rock Festivaland the Denver Pop Festival.
In August, Denny Cordell heard about the planned concert inWoodstock, New York and convinced organiser Artie Kornfeld to book Cocker and the Grease Band for the Woodstock Festival. The group had to be flown into the festival by helicopter due to the large crowds. They performed several songs, including “Delta Lady”, “Something’s Comin’ On”, “Let’s Go Get Stoned”, “I Shall Be Released”, and “With a Little Help from My Friends”. Cocker would later say that the experience was “like an eclipse… it was a very special day.”
Directly after Woodstock, Cocker released his second album, Joe Cocker!. Impressed by his cover of “With a Little Help from My Friends”, Paul McCartney and George Harrison allowed Cocker to use their songs “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” and “Something” for the album.Recorded during a break in touring in the spring and summer, the album reached number 11 on the US charts and garnered a second UK hit with the Leon Russell song, “Delta Lady”. Throughout 1969 he was featured on variety TV shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and This Is Tom Jones. Onstage, he exhibited an idiosyncratic physical intensity, flailing his arms and playing air guitar, occasionally giving superfluous cues to his band.
At the end of the year Cocker was unwilling to embark on another US tour, so he dissolved the Grease Band. Despite Cocker’s reluctance to venture out on the road again, an American tour had already been booked so he had to quickly form a new band in order to fulfil his contractual obligations. It proved to be a large group of more than 30 musicians, including pianist and bandleader Leon Russell, three drummers, and backing vocalists Rita Coolidge and Claudia Lennear.
The new band was christened “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” by Denny Cordell after the Noël Coward song of the same name. His music at this time evolved into a more bluesy type of rock, often compared to that of the Rolling Stones. During the ensuing Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour (later described by drummer Jim Keltner as “a big, wild party”), Cocker toured 48 cities, recorded a live album, and received very positive reviews from Time and Life for his performances. However, the pace of the tour was exhausting. Russell and Cocker had personal problems and Cocker became depressed and began drinking excessively as the tour wound down in May 1970.
Meanwhile, he enjoyed several chart entries in the US with “Cry Me a River” and “Feelin’ Alright” by Dave Mason. His cover of the Box Tops’ hit “The Letter”, which appeared on the live album and film, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, became his first US Top Ten hit. After spending several months in Los Angeles, Cocker returned home to Sheffield where his family became increasingly concerned with his deteriorating physical and mental health. During this time, in periods between work, Cocker wrote the overture played by Ted Heathon the occasion the Prime Minister famously conducted a live orchestra whilst in office. In the summer of 1971 the A&M Recordssingle release appeared in the US of “High Time We Went”.
This became a hit, reaching number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, but was not issued on an album until November 1972 on the Joe Cocker album. In early 1972, after nearly two years away from music, Cocker went on tour with a group that Chris Stainton had formed. He opened with a performance in Madison Square Garden which was attended by about 20,000 people. After touring the US, he embarked on a European tour where he played to large audiences in Milan, Italyand Germany. He then returned to the US for another tour in autumn 1972. During these tours the group cut the songs that would be part of his newest album, Joe Cocker. A mixture of live songs and studio recordings, the album peaked at number 30 on the US charts.
Cocker performing on 16 October 1980 in the National Stadium, Dublin
In October 1972, when Cocker toured Australia, he and six members of his entourage were arrested in Adelaide by police for possession of marijuana. The next day in Melbourne, assault charges were laid after a brawl at the Commodore Chateau Hotel,and Cocker was given 48 hours to leave the country by the Australian Federal Police.
This caused huge public outcry in Australia, as Cocker was a high-profile overseas artist and had a strong support base, especially amongst the baby boomers who were coming of age and able to vote for the first time. It sparked hefty debate about the use and legalisation of marijuana in Australia and gained Cocker the nickname of “the Mad Dog”.Shortly after the Australian tour, Stainton retired from his music career to establish his own recording studio. After his friend’s departure and estrangement from longtime producer Denny Cordell, Cocker sank into depression and began using heroin. In June 1973 he kicked the habit, but continued to drink heavily. At the end of 1973, Cocker returned to the studio to record a new album, I Can Stand A Little Rain. The album, released in August 1974, was number 11 on the US charts and one single, a cover of Dennis Wilson and Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful”, which reached the number 5 slot.Despite positive reviews for the album, Cocker struggled with live performances, largely due to his problems with alcohol.
One such instance was reported in a 1974 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, saying during two West Coast performances in October of that year he threw up on stage. In January 1975, he released a second album that had been recorded at the same time as I Can Stand a Little Rain, Jamaica Say You Will. To promote his new album, Cocker embarked on another tour of Australia, made possible by the country’s newLabor government. In late 1975, he contributed vocals on a number of the tracks on Bo Diddley’s The 20th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll all-star album. He also recorded a new album in a Kingston, Jamaica studio, Stingray.
However, record sales were disappointing; the album reached only number 70 on the US charts. In 1976, Cocker performed “Feelin’ Alright” on Saturday Night Live. John Belushi joined him on stage doing his famous impersonation of Cocker’s stage movements. At the time, Cocker was $800,000 in debt to A&M Records and struggling with alcoholism. Several months later, he met producer Michael Lang, who agreed to manage him on the condition that he stay sober.
With a new band, Cocker embarked on a tour of New Zealand, Australia and South America. He then recorded a new album with session work by Steve Gadd and Chuck Rainey, and a new, young bassist from Scotland, Rob Hartley. Hartley also toured briefly with Cocker’s friends in 1977. In the autumn of 1978, he went on a North American tour promoting his album, Luxury You Can Afford. Despite this effort, it received mixed reviews and only sold around 300,000 copies. In 1979, Cocker joined the “Woodstock in Europe” tour, which featured musicians like Arlo Guthrie and Richie Havens who had played at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
He also performed in New York’s Central Park to an audience of 20,000 people. The concert was recorded and released as the live album, Live in New York. He also toured Europe and appeared on the German television recording amphitheatre, Rockpalast, the first of many performances on the show. In 1982, Cocker recorded two songs with the jazz group the Crusaders on their album Standing Tall. One song, ‘I’m So Glad I’m Standing Here Today’ was nominated for a Grammy Award and Cocker performed it with the Crusaders at the awards ceremony. The Crusaders wrote this song with Cocker in mind to sing it. Cocker then released a new reggae-influenced album, Sheffield Steel, recorded with the Compass Point All Stars, produced by Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin.
In 1982, at the behest of producer Stewart Levine, Cocker recorded the duet “Up Where We Belong” with Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman. The song was an international hit, reaching number 1 on theBillboard Hot 100, and winning a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo. The duet also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and Cocker and Warnes performed the song at the awards ceremony. Several days later, he was invited to perform “You Are So Beautiful” with Ray Charles in a television tribute to the musician.
He then joined singer Ronnie Lane’s 1983 tour to raise money for the London-based organisation Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis, in particular because Lane was beginning to suffer from the degenerative disease. Musicians such as Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page,Jeff Beck and Chris Stainton also participated in the tour which included a performance at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. While on another tour that year, Cocker was arrested by Austrian police after refusing to perform because of inadequate sound equipment.
The charges were eventually dropped and Cocker was released. Shortly after the incident, he released his ninth studio album, Civilized Man. His next album Cocker was dedicated to his mother, Madge, who died when he was recording in the studio with producer Terry Manning. A track from the album, “You Can Leave Your Hat On” was featured in the 1986 film 9½ Weeks. The album eventually went Platinum on the European charts.
His 1987 album Unchain My Heartwas nominated for a Grammy Award, although it did not win. One Night of Sin was also a commercial success, surpassingUnchain My Heart in sales. Throughout the 1980s, Cocker continued to tour around the world, playing to large audiences in Europe, Australia and the United States.
In 1988, he performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall and appeared on The Tonight Show. After Barclay James Harvest and Bob Dylan Cocker was the first to give Rock concerts in the German Democratic Republic, in East Berlin and Dresden.
The venue, the Blüherwiese, next to the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion, bears the vernacular name Cockerwiese (Cocker meadow) today.He also performed for President George Bush at an inauguration concert in February 1989. In 1992, his version of Bryan Adams’ “Feels Like Forever” made the UK Top 40. At the 1993 Brit Awards, Cocker was nominated for Best British Male.Cocker performed the opening set at Woodstock ’94 as one of the few alumni who played at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969 and was very well received.
On 3 June 2002, Cocker performed “With A Little Help From My Friends” accompanied by Phil Collins on drums and Queen guitarist Brian May at the Party at the Palace concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, an event in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II. In 2007, Cocker appeared playing minor characters in the film Across the Universe, as the lead singer on another Beatles’ hit, “Come Together”.Cocker was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours list for services to music.To celebrate receiving his award in mid December 2007, Cocker played two concerts in London and in his home town of Sheffield.
In April and May 2009, Cocker conducted a North American tour in support of his album Hymn for My Soul. He sang the vocals on Little Wing for the Carlos Santana album, Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time, released on 21 September 2010.
In the autumn of 2010, Cocker toured Europe promoting his studio album Hard Knocks. Cocker returned to Australia in 2008 and again in 2011, the latter of which featured George Thorogood and the Destroyers as an opening act.
On 20 March 2011, Joe Cocker took part in a benefit concert for Cornell Dupree at B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York. Dupree played on two Cocker albums Stingray (1976) and Luxury You Can Afford (1978). Dupree’s band Stuff was also Cocker’s backing band on a tour promoting Stingray in 1976. While performing a concert at Madison Square Garden on 17 September 2014, veteran rock singer Billy Joel stated that Cocker was “not very well right now” and asked that he be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1963, Cocker began dating Eileen Webster, also a resident of Sheffield. The couple dated intermittently for the next 13 years, separating permanently in 1976. In 1978, Cocker moved onto a ranch owned by Jane Fonda in Santa Barbara, California. Pam Baker, a local summer camp director and fan of Cocker’s music, persuaded the actress to let the house to Cocker. Baker began dating Cocker and they eventually married on 11 October 1987.The couple resided on the Mad Dog Ranch in Crawford, Colorado. Cocker was not related to fellow Sheffield-born musician Jarvis Cocker, despite this being a rumour (particularly in Australia, where Jarvis’s father Mac Cocker, a radio DJ, allowed listeners to believe he was Joe Cocker’s brother). On 22 December 2014, Cocker died of lung cancer at his home in Colorado at the age of 70.