Burlington man relives creating Astronaut’s Anthem on 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 mission

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BURLINGTON, N.C. — Joseph W. Cobb, better known as Jerry, was born in Washington, D.C., on June 6, 1940.

“My father, he went into the service,” Cobb said. “But he didn’t come back.”

In 1946, his mother married Cobb’s stepfather, who was from Gibsonville, moving the family to North Carolina.

In 1958, Cobb joined the Navy, and when he got out, he returned to North Carolina, attending what at the time was the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina. From there, he went back to D.C. and attended Howard University.

There, his love for music blossomed.

“I began to learn the value of arrangements,” Cobb recalled. “The value of being able to control your own music.”

In July 1969, Cobb was in New York City, living as a performer and musician.

“You get to know everybody on the street, you know, all the hustlers and everybody,” he said.

The week the Apollo 11 mission happened, his friend approached him with an idea.

“‘You write the Astronaut’s Anthem,’” Cobb said. “He says, ‘that’s gonna be a hit.'”

Cobb wrote the song, he says, in a couple hours.

“I went back to what I was doing,” he remembers.

The song only existed on paper, until 1991. Then, his stepfather encouraged him to record it.

“While we were in Washington [state], I raised the money to make the recording,” Cobb said.

With 18 musicians and a choir of 12, the Astronaut’s Anthem was born.

It was soon recognized by the California Senate.

“Primarily the Republican Senate loved the song and they got together and gave me the Senate Rules Resolution because they liked it,” Cobb explained.

Later, it was entered into Congressional Record.

“I’ve written many songs, this was one of them, I would say that this is the crowning jewel,” Cobb said.

Today, on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, Cobb considers his mission of honoring past, present and future astronauts complete.

“It was written with the hopes that it would go down as a legacy for this country,” he said.

To listen to the anthem, click here.

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