Remembering when Jarvis Cocker crashed the Brit Awards stage and 'mooned' Michael Jackson
11 May 2021, 17:09
Frontman of Pulp Jarvis Cocker crashed the stage while Michael Jackson was performing 'Earth Song' at the 1996 Brit Awards in London.
The incident has gone down in history as one of the most controversial musical moments of the 1990s.
The incident saw Jarvis 'moon' the crowd and duck and weave among extras before standing on the very top of the stage as 'Earth Song' continued to play around him at the awards show in Earl's Court.
Michael Jackson may have been oblivious to the chaos – he was, afterall, suspended in a crane at the time – but the police certainly weren't, with Jarvis Cocker whisked off to the local station until 3am on the charges of "assaulting some children" that had been on the stage.
Yet why Jarvis caused the incident – and the incredible story of how David Bowie got him out of trouble – are perhaps even more interesting than the controversy itself.
Asked about his reason for crashing the stage, Jarvis Cocker told Chris Evans on TFI Friday just months after the event in 1996, that he had been sitting in the audience and had felt sick at how Michael Jackson was portraying himself.
"I was just sat there and watching it and feeling a bit ill, 'cause he's there doing his Jesus act.
Watch Jarvis Cocker storm Michael Jackson's performance below:
"And I could kind of see - It seemed to me there was a lot of other people who kind of found it distasteful as well, and I just thought: 'The stage is there, I'm here and you can actually just do something about it and say this is a load of rubbish if you wanted.'"
See more: Barry Gibb and Michael Jackson's powerful forgotten duet 'All In Your Name' is spectacular
Many years later, after Jarvis Cocker had had a chance to reflect on the night in question, he revealed the darker side to the incident.
Speaking to the New York Times in 2020, Cocker said the moment “changed my life forever, because of the fallout” and it affected him deeply.
“In the U.K., 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.”
The Pulp star also revealed it was David Bowie who eventually saved him from criminal charges.
“There was an accusation that I’d knocked some kids off the stage," he explained. "I’d been arrested. 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.”