The Desperate Dan Band Bring You Cocker A Tribute

On the 26th of September a true Worthing legend, brings the sound of another musical legend to St Paul’s Worthing.

Bob Brookes and The Desperate Dan Band have, in their time played with or supported acts such as, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Jools Holland, Dave Matticks, Miller Anderson, Chris Farlowe and many more.

In the late 90’s the band performed a tribute to one of the greatest vocalists this country has ever produced, JOE COCKER and this month the full band return to Worthing St. Paul’s to reprise that show.

More of a tribute to, than an imitation of, this show, complete with horn section will showcase the breadth of Cocker’s work and brings a flavour of the artist know for his interpretation of classics like    “ With a little help from my friends”, “Unchain my heart” and “When the night comes”

I chatted to Bob Brookes about why he has decided to bring back this show, his varied career and his love for great song-writing

RK: how you doing, been a busy year!

BB; good thanks, excited to get back to this show, been something I have been working on for a while.

I understand these gigs will be with the full desperate Dan band, is that correct?

Yes its with the desperate Dan large band, I put it together because we did a Joe Cocker tribute at the Pier Pavilion a few years ago and wound up with a double album from that, recorded live, and it was so good that felt it was time to put it back together and do something with it so the gig at St.Paul’s is one of four that we are playing to see if its got wings to fly.

I think Joe Cocker is due a bit of a rediscovery:

Yes, definitely, If you start to dig in to the breadth of stuff Joe has done, there are 32 albums of music and 22 of them are live, just an incredible range of music.

Given your musical heritage and the people you have played with, what is it about Joe Cocker that draws you back?

He is a great interpreter of other peoples songs and who ever chose his songs, whether he chose them himself or had other people chose them for him, had a great insight to what Joe could do and apart from the fact that he worked with people like the crusaders, he always had good musicians around him and I have been lucky enough to in the past to have half of his horn section work with me which was nice. But in this line up there is a great stack of people there both the keyboard players have a great pedigree Jeff Raite who is playing piano was the musical director for the blues brothers tribute that ran for years.

So is he doing the arrangements for you?

No the arrangements are pretty much as is on the album but we have added 3 or 4 more new songs to the party.

The way to go with a tribute to anybody is not to emulate or copy but to do your thing in the spirit of the artist and inject what Joe did with songs.

Does you history help you with that?

I think Joe and I came out of the same stable, Joe loved Ray Charles and a lot of those influences are there in his voice, I went to see Ray Charles when I was about 14 with a 60 piece orchestra and I don’t think I have ever seen anything else that compares to it.

I think the whole thing from my point of view is to air those songs again and if it does have wings you could forever be going through Joe’s catalogue and picking out really good songs, they are all there and we just hope we have gone some way towards bringing back attention to what he has done.

Any thoughts on how you will lay out the stage and deal with the acoustics which can be a problem with a big band in an old church?

As far as I know it’s big enough to take the whole band, and we will have tables around the outside with room in the middle for people to stand and dance, and indecently we are going to film it. Martyn Baker from Yougig is coming to put the cameras on and to sort out the syncing, the idea is to get a proper record on video of the band, although there was some crude video around in 1997 at the Pier Pavilion, it wasn’t really good enough to put up.

Regarding the sound on the night, we really have to keep it quiet on stage and allow the PA do its job and not try to pin everybody to the back of the room.

So if this takes off is the plan to tour it around the country?

Yes we have a small West Country tour lined up for April 2020, but would love to take this concept further.

What else do you have in the pipeline, any more plans to play with Chris Farlowe?

Might do something before Xmas we always do a big party thing at the end of the year, it’s always a great night, just for a tight group of people, but I am sure we will do some more stuff next year.

I always thought Chris was sort of forgotten in the UK? Didn’t get the credit he deserved

Like Joe and others his big audiences where in Germany, Austria Switzerland and he was drawn off to that area because that was where he could make some money, the interest in live music in this country in my opinion began to wain in the late 80’s/early 90’s and is still very difficult to get people to come along to see good home grown music, there is plenty of it in pubs but the big problem is that if you go from pub to pub to pub you can’t develop anything bigger because you don’t have the room to grow.  I’m not trying to decry what happens in the pubs because it’s great to go out and play but there’s an audience out there who want to see good live music but don’t want to sit in a pub.

That’s why places like St.Paul’s are important

Absolutely, I think St.Paul’s is a lovely venue I’ve been to a few gigs there myself. And I have heard the guy who runs the PA understands the room and has the sound sorted.

Of all the people you have worked with, which gig stays with you?

One that Desperate Dan that I did with Dave Matticks on drums, we played at the Komedia in Brighton to a packed house and it was the sort of show you didn’t want to end, but other people that I have worked with; Jools Holland was amazing, fantastic musician, Sherman Robertson an American Blues guitarist, I got to sit in with him and he just blew me away, Chris obviously and Miller Anderson is a great blues guitarist, always full of ideas, just an instinctive player.

I remember one gig, we supported Los Lobos on the bill and they are an amazing band, they all came out into the bear pit and stood along the side of the stage while we where playing which was amazing, a nice accolade.

You Played with Kenney Jones as well,

We played the polo ground a few times; he sat in with us on a couple of Farlowe gigs again just a great guy and a fantastic musician,

Do you have many unfulfilled ambitions as a musician?

I write music with Jeremy Sherman, we have around 150 songs swimming about and a couple that are close, but just want to get something I have written recorded by someone else.

As far as I am concerned there is always something new to do, I still work a lot with Miller Anderson, the Cocker stuff hopefully will take of next year and The Desperate Dan Band.

Music is something you have to love; it’s not just a way of earning money, I made a decision a long time ago that I would do this because I love it, and I still do.

For me music is a better and much richer place with folk like Bob in it, grass roots music is vital and people like Bob give us a link back to the glory days of Blues, folk, rock, bluegrass and so much more.

Thursday 26th September
Doors: 19:00
St. Paul’s, Worthing
£20 + Booking Fee


Read more interviews and articles on Womu – a Worthing music blog at

Rob Kelly

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