This Sheffield (Yorkshire) band formed in 1978 at The City School and played their first public gig at Rotherham Arts Centre in July 1980.
In November 1985, Jarvis Cocker was at a party at bandmate Russell Senior’s flat above a Sheffield sex shop called Sven Books.
While attempting to impress a girl by crawling out of one window and in through another, he fell and fractured his pelvis. Six weeks in hospital and gigs in a wheelchair followed. “It was just senseless bravado”, Cocker conceded.
Throughout the 1980s, the band struggled to find success but gained prominence in the UK in the mid-1990s with the release of the albums His ‘n’ Hers (1994) and Different Class (1995), which reached the #1 spot in the UK Albums Chart. Different Class produced four top ten singles, including Common People and Sorted for E’s & Wizz, both of which reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart.
When The Stone Roses were forced to pull out, Pulp took Glastonbury’s 1995 Pyramid Stage headline spot, where they played Sorted For E’s & Wizz for the first time. When the song was released as a single, the CD inlay included a diagram which allegedly showed how to fold a drug wrap from a piece of paper, which led to a front-page Daily Mirror headline proclaiming, “BAN THIS SICK STUNT”
In response, Jarvis was quoted in the paper the following day saying “Drugs? I’d rather pedal my bicycle”. He also elaborated in a separate interview that “origami does not lead to drug addiction, as far as I know – I might be wrong”.
Cocker and the band became reluctant figureheads of the Britpop movement and were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 1994 for His ‘n’ Hers. They won the prize in 1996 for Different Class and were nominated again in 1998 for This Is Hardcore.
When Cocker jumped onstage at the 1996 Brits and shook his tiny tush at the sickening spectacle of Michael Jackson‘s God complex, Jacko’s people exposed the flimsiness of their pretensions by overreacting completely and accusing Jarvis of pushing the stage-school children off the stage.
By the time they realised the whole thing was being filmed and that the little British have lawyers too, Jarvis’s tilt at the windmill was a national cause célèbre – the blunt Yorkshireman taking on the might of the American multinationals and winning a craven climb-down.
The band released We Love Life in 2001 and then took a decade-long break, having sold more than 10 million records. Pulp reunited and played live again in 2011, with dates at the Isle of Wight Festival, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Pohoda, Sziget Festival, Primavera Sound, the Exit festival, and the Wireless Festival.
The band documented their 2012 farewell concert (held, appropriately, in Sheffield) in the movie Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets.
On 9 March 2014, Pulp and filmmaker Florian Habicht premiered the feature documentary Pulp: A Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets at SXSW Music and Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The film toured the international film festival circuit and was released theatrically in the US in November 2014.
The band once again went on hiatus, but in 2022, Cocker announced that the band would be reuniting for a second time to play a series of shows in 2023.
Bassist Steve Mackey died in March 2023 after three months in hospital with an undisclosed illness. He was just 56.