The unlikely story of how Sheffield's Jarvis Cocker was saved by David Bowie after he gatecrashed Michael Jackson performance

Sheffield’s Jarvis Cocker has spoken of how David Bowie came to his rescue when he was arrested following a famous incident at the 1996 Brit Awards ceremony.

By Richard Blackledge
Saturday, 11th July 2020, 10:25 am

Pulp frontman Cocker stormed the stage while Michael Jackson was in the middle of a messianic rendition of his hit single Earth Song, which depicted him as a God-like saviour.

The Intake-born singer was chased away by Jackson’s security guards, and he was later arrested by police on suspicion of assault before being released without charge.

Now Cocker has disclosed that he was exonerated only after Bowie stepped in.

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“There was an accusation that I’d knocked some kids off the stage. I’d been arrested,” he told The New York Times. “The only footage that’d been released was like a CCTV camera, and you couldn’t see what was happening.

“That year, David Bowie was getting a lifetime achievement award, and he had his own camera crew there. After two or three days, they released their footage, and then the charges were dropped straight away. Among many other things I’m grateful to David Bowie for, that was amazing.”

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Cocker added that his spur-of-the-moment decision to protest against Jackson’s overblown performance had a significant downside.

Jarvis Cocker with Pulp at Sheffield Arena in 1996. Picture: Paul Chappells.

“In the UK, suddenly, I was crazily recognised and I couldn’t go out anymore,” he said. “It tipped me into a level of celebrity I couldn’t ever have known existed, and wasn’t equipped for.

“It had a massive, generally detrimental effect on my mental health.”

Cocker has previously emphasised that he did not ‘moon’ Jackson, and merely wiggled and gestured near the so-called ‘King of Pop’ instead. “I never mooned anybody in my whole life,” he said on BBC TV’s Question Time show in 2009.

Pulp were at their chart peak at the time, having released the album Different Class the previous October. Their follow-up album, This Is Hardcore, had a much darker tone.

David Bowie at Sheffield Arena in 1995. Picture: Steve Ellis.

Cocker is about to release a new LP – titled Beyond The Pale – with his new band JARV IS… and has written a book about creativity called This Book Is A Song which is due for publication later this year.

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