Portrait of British rock singer Joe Cocker, Nov. 21, 1969
Jack Robinson—Getty Images
December 22, 2014 1:48 PM EST

Joe Cocker, the Grammy-winning British blues singer, died Monday at the age of 70, leaving behind a legacy that included dozens of albums.

But back when he was just getting started, the singer’s exuberant stage presence was so extreme that he once joked to TIME that Ed Sullivan tried to hide him with back-up dancers so as not to alienate viewers.

Despite those attempts to keep his talent under wraps, by the time the magazine profiled him in April of 1970, he had made a splash at Woodstock. The world had noticed that he “knows just when to shout, just when to pout, just when to let a phrase die with a low, sad whimper,” the magazine reported.

Here’s how Josh Tyrangiel described that Woodstock performance decades later in TIME:

In 1970, TIME noted that it might seem strange for a Brit to sing the blues, Cocker explained why it wasn’t so weird after all:

Read the full 1970 profile here, in the TIME Vault: Which One Is Joe?

Read Josh Tyrangiel on Cocker and the baby boomers’ biggest weekend: Woodstock: How Does It Sound 40 Years Later?

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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