Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour movie premiered at London’s Festival Palace 50 years ago today (January 22nd). One of the most popular songs from that was  “The Letter” Cocker started singing the lyrics to the Box Tops hit over a piano vamp Leon Russell was playing. Released as a single before the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, a live version is featured on the album of the same name. The studio version was a bonus track on the album’s 2004 deluxe edition.  The late Joe Cocker on how he came to record “The Letter,” which was a 1967 hit for The Box Tops. He credits the keyboardist and musical director for his Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, Leon Russell from this 1980 interview:

“The Box Tops had a big hit with ‘The Letter’ and I still love their version of it. But Leon, his trademark, he used to do these little vamps and one day he just [sings] and started doing that vamp. And I think just sort of off the top of my head started, ‘Give me a ticket…’ So we said, ‘Hey, let’s do it.’ That’s how things were then. If we just had a flash idea we went straight for them.”

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