“It’s not as if Jarvis cracked Michael Jackson on the head with a baseball bat, which is what I woulda done.” Oasis had a lot of fun annoying everyone at the 1996 Brit Awards

Oasis at 1996 Brit Awards
(Image credit: JMEnternational/Getty Images)

In August 1995, for anyone in the United Kingdom with a passing interest in modern music, it was impossible to avoid the noise and hype around 'The Battle of Britpop'.

In the most basic terms, this 'conflict' pivoted around the fact that two of England's biggest bands, Blur and Oasis, had singles scheduled for release on the same day, August 14. But the question of whether Country House or Roll With It would sell the most copies before a victor was declared on August 20 was only part of the story. In media terms, this  was also about The South versus The North, middle class vs. working class, Chirpy Cockneys (which Blur weren't, tbh) versus Mouthy Mancs (which Oasis most assuredly were). And there was, in fairness, some genuine enmity between the two bands, with Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher making headlines when he stated, in 1995,  that he hoped that Blur vocalist Damon Albarn and bassist Alex James would "catch Aids and die".

In the end, Blur emerged victorious from this particular stramash, but it was something of a pyrrhic victory, for while their 1995 album, The Great Escape, went triple platinum in the UK, selling 900,000 copies, Oasis' (What's The Story) Morning Glory was certified 17 times platinum, selling 5,100,000 copies. As if that weren't crushing enough, the Gallagher brothers then went on to pick up the British Album Of The Year, the British Video Of The Year (for Wonderwall) and the British Group trophies at the 1996 Brit Awards, while Blur won precisely nothing. 

Naturally, Oasis had a ball at the ceremony, which took place at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in west London. They drank lots, swore more, swaggered around as if they owned the place, and insulted just about everyone in attendance.

Picking up the Best Video award, Noel Gallagher looked down at the audience and said, "I'm extremely rich, and you lot aren't", before labelling INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, who presented the award, a "has-been." Then, when picking up their British Album Of The Year award, the Gallagher brothers celebrated by bursting into an impromptu version of Blur's Parklife re-titled 'Shite Life', before Liam called host Chris Evans "ginger bollocks" and pretended to shove the award up his own arse. 

Asked by Musician magazine later that year if they "took any heat" for their antics on the night, Noel Gallagher replied, "The music press thought we were great, but the national newspapers said we were a disgrace to our country. Which is fine by me, because our country is a disgrace to us."

To be fair, after the awards, the national newspaper were actually more concerned about Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker invading the stage during Michael Jackson's performance of Earth Song, which he found "extremely distasteful and crap". By way of protest, Cocker pretended, Monty Python-style, to fart in Jackson's general direction, an action which led to him being questioned by police for two hours after the ceremony. “He’s Off His Cocker” a headline in The Sun exclaimed.

"Jarvis is a star!" Noel Gallagher told Musician. "People thought it was so shocking. It’s not as if he cracked [Jackson] on the head with a baseball bat - which is what I woulda done if I’d gone up there."

Gallagher rounded off his 1996 Musician interview with another killer put down, laughing at "all these shitty little indie bands who hate us back in England".

"They go [affects empathetic voice], 'Tch, you know what, man? I’d really hate to be in your position, man. You must have no privacy at all, man. I mean, your life must be really hard.' And I’m thinking, What? You sell two records in Gloucester, and you’re telling me you’d hate to be in my position? I’ve got a fookin' Rolls-Royce and a fookin’ bastard mansion [Note: Southern English music journalists in the '90s were obsessed at a time with writing the word fookin' instead of 'fucking' when it came quoting musicians from the North of England] and an airplane and you’d hate to be me? Ha, not as much as I’d hate to be you, you daft cunt!"

Oasis - 1996-02-19 - Brit Awards Uncut, Earls Court, London, England - YouTube Oasis - 1996-02-19 - Brit Awards Uncut, Earls Court, London, England - YouTube
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Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.