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Joe Cocker receives royal honor

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  • UK-born Joe Cocker receiving an Order of the British Empire
  • The award officially recognizes Cocker's "services to music"
  • Prince Charles scheduled to present Cocker with the honor
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Four decades after he won over America with his scratchy, soulful voice and blues-inspired rock, British-born Joe Cocker is receiving an honor from the queen.

Joe Cocker is being honored at Buckingham Palace for his services to music.

Cocker, 63, was set to receive an OBE, or Order of the British Empire, at a ceremony Thursday morning at Buckingham Palace. The award officially recognizes Cocker's "services to music."

Prince Charles was planning to present Cocker with the honor, part of the queen's annual birthday honors list.

Famous for songs including "You Are So Beautiful" and his cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends," Cocker began his career by singing Ray Charles songs in pubs around his hometown of Sheffield, northern England in the early 1960s.

Cocker toured with a string of bands, often playing American airbases in Europe, winning fans among the servicemen.

The press hailed his first U.S. television performance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1969, and the following summer, Cocker played to half a million people at the historic Woodstock rock festival in New York state.

The ensuing live album "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" remains a Cocker classic, with songs including "Cry Me A River" and "Feelin' Alright."

Rolling Stone magazine says Cocker's "gritty, powerful voice remains one of the most distinctive in rock & roll."

A whirlwind U.S. tour after Woodstock left Cocker "exhausted," according to his own Web site, and reported drug and alcohol abuse came soon after.

Cocker had a top 10 song in 1975 with "You are So Beautiful," but his fortunes really turned in 1982 with his No. 1 duet with Jennifer Warnes, "Up Where We Belong," the theme from the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman."

Cocker's most recent U.S. top 10 was "When the Night Comes," written by Bryan Adams.

Cocker now lives on a ranch in Colorado but still tours extensively. He has been touring Europe since June and plans shows in Sheffield and London this weekend. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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