Joe Cocker’s wife was a camp director when he met her

Joe Cocker was already a world famous musician in 1978 when he met a summer camp director in Santa Barbara he would end up marrying.

Baker was the director for 15 years of Laurel Springs Camp, a performing arts summer camp founded by actress and political activist Jane Fonda and then husband Tom Hayden. The camp is no longer in operation and Baker and the English musician later settled in Colorado at their Mad Dog Ranch in 1992.

Cocker died at age 70 on Monday.

The camp “brought together inner city high risk children and children from wealth and privilege for 2 week sessions to study art, music, acting, dance, photography and more,” according to a short biography about Pam Baker on the Cocker Kids Foundation website.

Some of the privileged campers at the camp included the kids of Willie Nelson, Jon Voight, Margot Kidder and Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, according to a 1984 article about the camp.

Pam was a fan of Cocker’s music and reportedly persuaded Fonda to rent a house on Fonda’s ranch to Cocker in 1978. Cocker credited his wife with helping him get his life back together and clean himself up.

“She made me think positively,” he said in a 2013 Daily Mail article. “I was very down on myself. She made me realise people still wanted to hear me sing, and convinced me I could escape the downward spiral.”

Below is video of Cocker’s famous Woodstock performance of “With A Little Help From My Friends” in 1969.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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