The inspiration behind one of Pulp‘s defining singles, who went on to become a groundbreaking mental health nurse, has died. Deborah Bone passed away at age 51 on December 30, according to London’s The Independent. She had been diagnosed with a form of bone marrow cancer. In a poignant twist, her passing came as she was named to receive royal honors this year for innovative work in the field of mental health.
Bone grew up next to Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker in Sheffield, England, and she’s mentioned in the opening lines of “Disco 2000,” from the beloved Britpop band’s breakout 1995 album, Different Class. “Well we were born within an hour of each other,” the song begins. “Our mothers said we could be sister and brother / Your name was Deborah. Deborah. It never suited ya.” Bone moved away at age 10, but her mother and Cocker’s mother stayed close. According to local newspaper The Comet, Cocker sang “Disco 2000″ at Bone’s 50th birthday party.
Bone was instrumental in creating various programs focusing on mental health for children. Her passion for this field started when she volunteered at a mental asylum at age 16. She was named on this week’s list of those who will receive MBE (“Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”) recognition. Her husband, Colin Bone, told The Comet he will be proud to attend the award ceremony in Deborah’s honor. She is also survived by daughters Jemima and Pollyanna, as well as grandson Elliott and soon-to-be-born granddaughter Lucy.
Cocker has yet to comment publicly on the sad news. In the meantime, you can read Deborah Bone’s blog about her experience with multiple myeloma here, and revisit “Disco 2000″ below.