Update: Looks like the mystery might have to remain unsolved.
A tweet from journalist Yiannis Baboulias claims that while Stratou graduated in June 1988, Cocker didn’t enrol at St. Martin’s until September that year.
The identity of the Greek girl at the heart of Pulp’s ‘Common People’ has long been one of pop’s great mysteries.
Inspired by someone Jarvis Cocker met on his sculpture course at Central St. Martin’s College Art & Design in the late 80s who spoke of wanting to move to Hackney to live with the “common people”, not even Cocker himself is sure of who it was. A BBC Three documentary in 2006 on the story behind the song tried to get to the bottom of her identity, but came up empty-handed – he didn’t sleep with her, and Cocker claims he didn’t even know her name or if sculpture was actually the course she was enrolled on.
However, Athens Voice claims it knows the identity of the mystery woman, stating that it is Danae Stratou, a woman who studied sculpture at St. Martin’s between 1983 and 1988. According to Athens Voice, Stratou is the daughter of industrialist Phaidon Stratos and sculptor Helen Potagas-Stratos, which would fit in with Cocker’s description in the song of a girl whose father was “loaded”. Another unlikely twist in the tale – Stratou’s current husband is Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, a member of the country’s left-wing Syriza party.
Given the unflattering nature of the song it’s unlikely Stratou would ever own up to her role in pop history, and it’s unlikely Cocker would either. You can revisit the song below. [h/t Gabriel Szatan]