Joe Cocker

Monday, 22 December 2014

He died yesterday, left a lot of great records and great performances, but also provided Lonely Planet with its name. Almost.

Mad Dogs & Englishmen

◄ Mad Dogs & Englishmen, a great rock & roll band on the road movie, a great double album

It’s 1973, Maureen and I have just finished putting together the very first Lonely Planet guidebook, Across Asia on the Cheap. All we needed was a name for our publishing company – a name which today has appeared on well over 100 million books. I wrote in The Lonely Planet Story, our account of Lonely Planet’s history:

1973 - Across Asia - 542Finding a name for our publishing business was less straightforward. We ran through dozens of names over bowls of spaghetti and glasses of cheap red wine in a small Italian restaurant on Oxford Street in Paddington before inspiration hit. I’d been humming a line from the Matthew Moore song ‘Space Captain’, sung by Joe Cocker in the classic rock and roll tour film Mad Dogs & Englishmen.

‘Once while travelling across the sky,’ I sang, ‘this lonely planet caught my eye.’

‘No,’ said Maureen, ‘you’ve got the words wrong. As usual. It’s lovely planet.’

She was right, I always got the words wrong …


The rest, as they say, is history.