"My actions were are form of protest at the way Michael Jackson sees himself as some kind of Christ-like figure with the power of healing. The music industry allows him to indulge his fantasies because of his wealth and power, " explained Cocker.
What exactly happened?
It was the 1996 BRIT music industry awards and the highlight of the show was a performance by the king of pop, Michael Jackson. Due to a spur-of-the-moment decision by Brit Pop icon Jarvis Cocker, Jackson's performance of 'Earthsong' would become another iconic moment in rock history.
Jackson's performance that evening has been described as "slightly over-the-top". Dressed in a Christ-like white robe surrounded by worshiping children and clergy, Jackson's stage persona could be described as eccentric at best, and delusional at worst. Cocker, allegedly on a dare, and later admitting he was probably a little too drunk for sensible decision making, decided to rush the stage with a friend in order to derail Jackson's performance.
Once on stage Cocker began joking around, lifting his shirt over his head and pointing his fully covered backside at Jackson. Drama ensued as security tried to remove him from stage and in the intervening scuffle three children were injured. The BritPop star was arrested and spent the next few hours in a police station before being released.
What was all the fuss about?
Though pop musicians are generally a secular bunch, Jackson's messianic portrayal of himself hit a sour note amongst portions of the crowd. Jarvis recently admitted his motivation for the stage invasion, saying, "it was distasteful; really s**t. But you can do that crap when you're famous. You can do anything when you're famous. That's why famous people are so dumb".
What were the consequences?
Cocker's actions were both celebrated and condemned. The tabloids incorrectly claimed Cocker pushed children offstage, while the British music press called for the popstar to be knighted for his iconoclastic actions.
In a statement soon after the incident Cocker put his actions into context, explaining, "My actions were are form of protest at the way Michael Jackson sees himself as some kind of Christ-like figure with the power of healing. The music industry allows him to indulge his fantasies because of his wealth and power. People go along with it even though they know it's a bit sick. I just couldn't go along with it anymore. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision brought on by boredom and frustration."
It was 11 years before Cocker was allowed to return to another BRIT awards and while the 2007 event passed without any major Jarvis-related incidents, the stage invasion still generated controversy. Ex-Blur frontman and Gorillaz's Damon Albarn recently said of the event, "I found it really disturbing when he pulled his pants down in front of Michael Jackson that just seemed really wrong. If someone is sick, he's not open to ridicule."
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