Parkinson tribute to Cocker

Doug Parkinson1
Doug Parkinson1



They lived on opposite sides of the world, but gravel-voiced Englishman Joe Cocker and equally gritty Australian vocalist Doug Parkinson had many things in common.

Both were born in steel towns – Cocker in Sheffield and Parkinson in Newcastle; both had hits with The Beatles songs – Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends and Parkinson’s Dear Prudence.

Both were born with unmistakable voices; and both lived rock star lifestyles tainted by drug and alcohol abuse that jeopardized their health and often got them into trouble with authority.

So it made sense that, a year after the Englishman’s death, Doug Parkinson honours the achievements of Cocker, backed by some of the finest R ‘n’ Blues musicians in the land.

After just a handful of live sellout shows, and standing ovation at Doug Parkinson Honours Joe Cocker concerts are proof that this tribute is something very special.

“I’m a completely different singer to Joe Cocker” Parkinson said.  “Our styles are poles apart, yet the common perception is that we are very similar.  The punters want to hear the songs again, sung by a voice that reminds them of the original”.

Parkinson said he hasn’t attempted to copy Cocker’s twitchy visual antics, leaving that to his imitators.  “It’s completely about the music – I like to think that somehow I’m helping to preserve his memory and the respect that is his due” Doug added.

Adding another element to the mix, the opening half of the show features Parkinson’s own impressive hits and favourites.  Audiences clearly believe the ‘two sides of the same coin’ format is a winner.


Excited and impassioned are just two words to describe the unmistakable voice of Australian Rock and Soul legend Doug Parkinson.  The multiple award winner is known for his including Dear Prudence, Without You, I’ll Be Around and The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.

When working as a cadet journalist at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph he struck up a friendship with sports writer Jeff Collarson who had a love of black American music.  Listening to his extensive and meticulously catalogued collection, it became a defining moment in Doug’s life.  He had never heard music such as this before  and at that moment realised journalism was not for him and that music would become the essential meaning in his life and shape his future.

Parkinson formed his first band Strings and Things in 1966 with the children of legendary test cricketer Sid Barnes.  By 1967 he teamed up with some of Sydney’s best musical minds to form The Questions and began exploring the outer regions of psychedelic rock.  Their first records established them as one of the more innovative acts in a rapidly evolving scene.  They supported The Who and The Small Faces tour nationally and placed second in the prestigious Hoadley’s Battle Of The Sounds.  This led to shows in Melbourne and this is where the story really begins.

In 1968 he formed Doug Parkinson in Focus which became the ‘musician’s musician’s’ outfit of the time.  The band would later prove to be a benchmark in Australian rock folklore.  Their first single, Dear Prudence topped the charts and this song became a cult recording.

In 1973 Doug took on his first major stage role in the concert product of The Who’s rock opera Tommy.   As a solo performer he recorded an album No Regrets.  Solo touring was a lonely existence but then new roles beckoned.  In 1975-76 he appeared in two stage shows – Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Ned Kelly.  A stead stream of music and theatre followed.  He collaborated and recorded two tracks for the cult film Stone and had another top ten hit with Everlasting Love.

He teamed up again with old friend Duncan McGuire to form The Southern Star Band.  Once again it was a band made in heaven.  The group included guitar whiz Tommy Emmanuel,  drum prodigy Mark Kennedy and pianist  Frank Esler Smith.  The recorded an album I’ll Be Around which produced another two Top Ten Hits – The Hungry Years and I’ll Be Around.  In 1980 the band supported Bob Marley and The Wailers on the legendary singer’s final tour.

In 1982 Doug recorded another solo album Heartbeat to Heartbeat which producer the Top Ten hit, The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore with vocalist Broderick Smith.

Doug was back on stage playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar which  toured around the country for 12 months before final shows in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Doug’s distinctive voice was also in demand in the advertising world.  He recorded ads for Coke, BHP, Toyota, Carlton United Breweries, Sanyo, Philips  to name a few.  He was also the voice for radio stations 2SM, 3AK, 3UZ, 5AD, 4MMM, 6PM and the 0-10 network.

During this extraordinary career, Doug has appeared alongside many international stars including Paul Jones, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Pointer Sisters, Thelma Houston and Randy Crawford.

During the late 80’s and early 90’s, Doug’s theatre credits continued, including roles in Big River, he played The Big Bopper in the smash hit musical Buddy.  More theatre roles followed with Grease The Arena Spectacular, Happy Days and a personal favourite as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.

Doug’s most recent record is a beautiful selection of soul/jazz standards sung by the man with an amazing gift we have all grown up with and loved for over four decades – a voice rich in soul and beauty.  The Herald Sun labeled Parkinson ‘Australia’s greatest singer’ while The Australian described him as a ‘rolled gold superstar’.

He has been the recipient of three Mo Awards and in 2014 he was awarded the Australian Club Industry’s Original Music Performer Of The Year award.  He has also joined a select group of Australians receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award in the same year.

ST GEORGES BASIN –  Country Club   –  APRIL 16

BENDIGO  –  The Capital Performance  Arts Theatre  –  APRIL 29

MELBOURNE              – Arts Centre Playhouse-  APRIL 30



GEELONG  – Performing Arts Centre-  MAY 13

WARNAMBOOL  – Lighthouse Theatre-  MAY 14

MT EVELYN  –  York On Lilydale –  JUNE 17

FRANKSTON   – Arts Centre-  JUNE 18

SYDNEY  – Chatswood The Concourse-  JULY 2

THIRROUL  – Anita’s Theatre-  JULY 9