Cocker's stage invasion strikes chord in Michael Jackson row

Brits furore: Superstar's routine dismissed as `excruciating, misguided and unbelievably awful'
When the allegations of child abuse against Michael Jackson surfaced several years ago it seemed unlikely that he would one day be performing on stage surrounded by pre-pubescent children and portraying himself as Christ.

But it would appear that no stunt has been dismissed as too ludicrous in rebuilding the superstar's squeaky clean image which was so damaged by the allegations.

His performance of "Earth Song" at the Brits on Monday can be seen as merely the latest stage in his rehabilitation. It was this process that Pulp star Jarvis Cocker showed in critical, rather than fawning, light by invading the stage and causing chaos among the performers.

But support grew for Cocker yesterday both within and without the music industry.

Jonathan King, who was the show's producer from 1990 to 1992, said: "I thought Jackson's performance was appalling and everyone who was there, bar the Sony executives, thought it was appalling too. It was the most excruciating, misguided and unbelievably awful thing I have seen in my life: 99 per cent of the music industry couldn't believe it."

Criticism of Jackson was also voiced in newspapers supporting Cocker. One letter called for him to be knighted, while another, from the former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, who is signed to Jackson's label, Sony, also complimented his actions. Cocker's invasion has already received backing from the Brits' Best British Producer, Brian Eno, and the Brits nominees Everything But The Girl.

Meanwhile, as Cocker was exonerated by video evidence of charges of assaulting children taking part in the act during his invasion, a spokesman for the BPI, organisers of the awards, said: "We will be reviewing security at next year's Brit Awards but if artists have to be separated into different artist's passes, we are reaching levels of absurdity."

JARVIS COCKER

Age: 32

Born: Sheffield

Childhood: Miserable. Made to wear lederhosen by mother. Formed Pulp

Hits include: "Common People", "Sorted for Es and Whizz"

Style: NHS specs, Oxfam jackets, beige chords

Record sales: Fifth LP, Different Class sold 900,000

Plastic surgery: None. Voted "least fanciable male" by readers of Smash Hits

Controversy: Daily Mirror said "Sorted for Es ... " encouraged drug-use

What they said: "Stage-presence of peak-period Alvin Stardust, wit of Alan Bennett, in body of Kenneth Williams" - Select magazine

MICHAEL JACKSON

Age: 37

Born: Gary, Indiana

Childhood: First hit at 11, with Jackson 5 in 1969. Superstar

Hits include: "Thriller", "Billy Jean", "Earth Song"

Style: Military, glittering tops, all-white outfits

Record sales: Last LP, HIStory sold 10 million worldwide, 1983 LP Thriller sold 50m-plus

Plastic surgery: Has admitted nose job

Controversy: Settled over alleged underage sex with Jordan Chandler, 13

What they said: "When his feet move, you can see God dancing." (Sir Bob Geldof); "Unfortunately, he is turning into a great prat." (Brian Eno)

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