There are, at least, two artists by this name. The first one is an English pop musician, the other one is an American R&B singer.
Jarvis came from a musical family (his father and uncle were musicians). It has often been claimed that fellow Sheffield musician Joe Cocker (unrelated) was a friend of the family and babysat for Jarvis on occasions. During Jarvis' 2007 performance at London's Royal Festival Hall, he claimed this was not true, and simply a rumour given credence by its appearance on Wikipedia.
Jarvis founded "Arabacus Pulp" at the age of fifteen while he was still at school. After numerous line-up changes, and a shortening of the name to just "Pulp", they eventually found fame in the 1990s with the success of the albums His 'n' Hers (1994) and Different Class (1995).
Cocker famously invaded the stage at the 1996 Brit Awards to protest against Michael Jackson's performance. Jackson performed surrounded by worshipping children and a rabbi, while making 'Christ-like' poses and performing his recent hit, Earth Song. Cocker and his friend Peter Mansell performed an impromptu stage invasion in protest. In the ensuing confusion, as others attempted to eject Cocker from the stage, a child performer received minor injuries.
Cocker was later detained and interviewed by the police on suspicion of assault and found himself being defended by the comedian and former solicitor, Bob Mortimer. Cocker was subsequently released without charge. Opinions from the press on Cocker's actions were mixed. The 2 March 1996 edition of Melody Maker, for example, suggested Cocker should be knighted, while Cocker's friend Noel Gallagher claimed "Jarvis Cocker is a star and he should be given MBE". Noel Gallagher said of Jackson's behaviour "For Michael Jackson to come over to this country after what's all gone on - and I think we all know what I'm talking about here - to dress in a white robe, right, thinking he's the Messiah - I mean who does he think he is? Me?" However, other journalists and the organisers of the Brit Awards were outraged at what they perceived as a bizarre self-promotional stunt that had endangered the on-stage performers. In response to the ensuing media scrutiny of the action, Jarvis responded, "My actions were a form of protest at the way Michael Jackson sees himself as some kind of Christ-like figure with the power of healing... I just ran on the stage... I didn't make any contact with anyone as far as I recall."
However, the resulting press attention saw the band's record sales soar and a waxwork statue of Jarvis Cocker, which costs £30,000, was placed in Rock Circus, London.
Cocker was also renowned for being a witty observer of the cultural scene far beyond pop music. He was a frequent guest on TV shows in the 90s, as well as hosting an arts series for the BBC.
Two more albums were released (This Is Hardcore and We Love Life) to critical acclaim, though neither achieved the commercial success of Different Class, Pulp then released a greatest hits album and went on hiatus. Jarvis moved to Paris with his wife, Camille Bidault-Waddington, with whom he has a son, Albert.
Cocker also directed some music videos, most notably On by Aphex Twin, Sudden Rush by Erlend Øye and Aftermath by Nightmares on Wax.
He re-emerged in 2003 to promote a new album, under the pseudonym "Darren Spooner", for his new band called Relaxed Muscle. Also in 2003, he appeared on the Richard X album Richard X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1. 2004 then brought Cocker briefly back into the limelight with two collaborations with Nancy Sinatra on her new album. In 2005 Jarvis Cocker co-wrote three tracks (La Degustation, Basque Country & Fred de Fred) on French Sheffield-based electronic duo The Lovers' début album "The Lovers". He has also contributed to the soundtrack for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, writing and performing three tracks entitled "This is the Night", "Do The Hippogriff" and "Magic Works". He appeared briefly in the film as lead singer of the wizard pop act the Weird Sisters (unnamed in the film owing to a legal scuffle with real-life group the Wyrd 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). 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. In 2006 Cocker appeared on albums Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited (song "I Just Came to Tell You That I'm Going", co-performed with Kid Loco) and Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys (song "A Drop of Nelson's Blood"). Also in 2006, along with Steve Mackey, he 'curated' the 2-CD Compilation, The Trip, which features a wide selection of tracks by artists as varied as The Fall, Gene Pitney and The Beach Boys. He also co-wrote lyrics on the Charlotte Gainsbourg album 5:55, with Neil Hannon and members of Air. On October 12th 2006, a fictional Jarvis Cocker was a lead character in a drama on BBC Radio 2, as part of their 'Imagine' competition.
Jarvis is now pursuing a solo career. His first solo release was a download-only single called 'Running The World', recorded as part of the Live8 campaign, which offered an unprecedently pithy assessment of global affairs. His eponymous solo debut album was released on November 13th 2006.