Jarvis Cocker, English singer-songwriter, musiian, and actor (Pulp and Relaxed Muscle) was born 19 September 1963 in Sheffield, growing up in the Intake area of the city. His father, Mac, a DJ and actor, moved to Sydney when Jarvis was seven and had no contact with him or his sister Saskia. Jarvis Cocker credits his upbringing, almost exclusively in female company, for his interest in how women think and what they have to say. He wrote a song (“A Little Soul” on This Is Hardcore) about being abandoned by his father, and in 1998 travelled with his sister to Australia to meet him for the first time in nearly 30 years. Mac Cocker had a successful radio DJ career in Sydney beginning withDouble J in the 1970s and then Triple J in the 1980s, and did not counter a common impression there that he was Joe Cocker’s brother or cousin (despite both being from Sheffield, they are not related in any way).
Cocker founded “Arabacus Pulp” (named after a tradeable commodity he saw in an economics class) at the age of 15 while he was still at The City School. After numerous line-up changes, and a shortening of the name to “Pulp”, they eventually found fame in the 1990s with the success of the albums His ‘n’ Hers (1994) and Different Class (1995). As Pulp’s front-man, part of his trademark image was his glasses, which seemed to “stay magically on his face” no matter his antics on stage. Pulp released two more albums (This Is Hardcore and We Love Life). After releasing a greatest hits album, the band was on hiatus from 2003 to 2010, but returned to activity in 2011. Cocker is also renowned for his wit and observations of the cultural scene. He was a frequent guest on TV shows in the 1990s, and hosted the Channel 4 channel 4 Program “Journeys into the Outside” meeting so-called “outsider artists”. Cocker’s penchant for TV appearances was reflected in a parody of “Common People” (“Showbiz People”) which was featured on the satirical comedy show Spitting Image in 1996.
Following Pulp’s hiatus, Cocker has led a successful solo career, and currently presents his own radio show on BBC Radio 6 Music, Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service. He has also had a successful solo career and at the 2006 Reading festival, the video for “Running the World” was played on the main video screens of the main stage throughout the day, notably before the headline act, Muse, performed. This video contained a karaoke-like presentation of the song’s lyrics to encourage the crowd to sing along.Cocker is now following a solo career – his debut album, Jarvis, came out in the UK on 13 November 2006. In March 2007, he appeared on French band Air’s album Pocket Symphony.On 14 February 2007, he was chosen to give the award for Best British Newcomer (awarded to the Fratellis) at the Brit Awards.He curated the 2007 Meltdown Festival at the South Bank Centre in London. The acts he chose include Motörhead, Roky Erickson and the Explosives with Clinic, Devo with Drumsize, Iggy & The Stooges, Cornershop and The Jesus and Mary Chain.In March 2008, Cocker made a small tour of Latin America (México, Argentina and Chile) where he presented a new song called “Girls Like It Too”..”Cocker debuted another new song, “Angela”, on BBC2’s “The Summer Exhibition: A Culture Show Special”, on 13 June 2008.
In 2009 Cocker’s released a solo album Further Complications, In Which, Cocker embraced an altogether more muscular sound, while retaining his trademark witticisms (on ‘Leftovers’, he sings “I met her in the Museum of Palaeontology / “And I make no bones about it”). Cocker also participated in a project raising the question, “What is Music?” Which was designed to enter into the debate over the future of the music industry. “Does this mean,” asked the singer, “that music can now go back to being an art form again? Also, what happens if you get a band to rehearse in an art gallery instead of a rehearsal space?” Consequently, Cocker and his band installed themselves in an art gallery in Paris for five days. Each day, Cocker and his musicians performed a variety of different tasks. These included soundtracking a relaxation class, inviting local musicians to join them in a jam, and arranging activities with local school-children. The events were organised around Jarvis’s public rehearsals for his forthcoming live dates. In June 2011, Cocker was chosen as poetry guest editor for The Mays Anthology, a collection of new writing from students at the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge.
Cocker has also collaborated with many other artists and sang a duet, “Ciao!”, with Miki Berenyi on British shoegazing band Lush’s 1996 album Lovelife. In 1997, he collaborated withDavid Arnold on a cover of All Time High by Rita Coolidge, the theme from Octopussy. Furthermore, he gained co-writing credits for several songs (“Walk Like A Panther”, “1st Man in Space”, “Drive Safely Darlin’”, “Stars On Sunday”, and “Happy Birthday Nicola”) on TheAll Seeing I’s album Pickled Eggs & Sherbet, released in 1999. He contributed lead vocals to “Drive Safely Darlin’”. He also performed live with The All Seeing I on Top Of The Pops, singing “Walk Like A Panther” in place of Tony Christie, who sang on the recorded version.In 2001 he contributed “Everybody Loves The Underdog” to the soundtrack for Mike Bassett: England Manager. He re-emerged in 2003 to promote a new album, under the pseudonym “Darren Spooner”, for his new band Relaxed Muscle. The same year, he appeared on theRichard X album Richard X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1. In 2004, Cocker collaborated with Nancy Sinatra on her new album, as well as with Marianne Faithfull on her album Kissin’ Time, with the song “Sliding through Life on Charm.”In 2005 Cocker co-wrote three tracks (“La Degustation”, “Basque Country” and “Fred de Fred”) on Sheffield-based electronica duo The Lovers’ self-titled debut album. That same year he also covered “I Can’t Forget” by Leonard Cohen as part of the tribute show for the film Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man
Cocker also contributed to the soundtrack for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, writing and performing three tracks: “This Is the Night”, “Do the Hippogriff” and “Magic Works”. He appeared briefly in the film as lead singer of the band The Weird Sisters. The fictitious group also featured Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway from Radiohead, Steve Mackey from Pulp, Jason Buckle from Relaxed Muscle and Steve Claydon from Add N to (X).In 2006 Cocker appeared on albums Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited (song “I Just Came to Tell You That I’m Going”, (co-performed withKid Loco) and Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys (song “A Drop of Nelson’s Blood”). His song “Running the World” appears in the film Children of Men. Also in 2006, along with Steve Mackey, he ‘curated’ the two-CD compilation, The Trip, which featured a wide selection of tracks by artists as varied as The Fall, Gene Pitney, The Beach Boys, and The Polecats. He also co-wrote lyrics on the Charlotte Gainsbourg album 5:55, with Neil Hannon and members of Air. Cocker and Beth Ditto(The Gossip) recently collaborated on a cover version of Heaven 17’s “Temptation” at the NME Awards in London. In 2007, Cocker contributed to two songs on French electronica group Air’s album “Pocket Symphony” – performing on “One Hell of a Party” and (with Charlotte Gainsbourg) “The Duelist”. In 2008, Cocker contributed Born to Cry, (originally a Pulp song released on the Notting Hillsoundtrack CD – though not featured in the film and co-written by Richard Hawley) to Tony Christie’s album of songs by Sheffield based songwriters, Made in Sheffield. In 2010, he worked with the National Trust to produce an album of sounds recorded at 11 of Britain’s historically significant sites. In 2010 he also narrated Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf at the Royal Festival Hall. Jarvis sang vocals on the single “Synchronize” by Discodeine.