Danny Rampling always wanted to be a DJ. He began collecting records
as a nine year-old growing up in Streatham, south London, listening
to Tony Prince (future mastermind of the DMC organisation) on Radio
Luxembourg. He scored his first proper DJ gig in 1981,
where he was paid £8 to play pop and soul to a champagne-drinking
bar crowd, an experience he now describes as, "good character-building
stuff." The next few years were spent DJing at bars and parties
around London, playing "anything except heavy metal."
Everything changed in the summer of 1986 when Danny went to Ibiza
for a weeks holiday with fellow soul boys Paul Oakenfold,
Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway, and paid a visit to a club called
Amnesia. Theyd all been before, but this trip was different
this time they encountered two crucial new aspects of clubbing,
Balearic house and ecstasy. The experience was to have a more profound
effect than anything any of them could have imagined at the time.
Back in London, Danny and then girlfriend Jenni (who he married
soon after) set up a club night, Shoom, aiming to recapture the
Ibizan party spirit. More than any other, Shoom was the club that
launched acid house in the UK and although it only lasted for a
year and never held more than a couple of hundred people, it became
something of a running joke that the number of people who have since
claimed to have been there could easily fill Wembley Stadium. It
was around this time that Danny landed his first radio gig, beginning
a regular show on then-pirate Kiss FM.
As acid house mushroomed into rave, Rampling reacted against the
massive, increasingly commercial parties and set up the Pure Sexy
night at Nicky Holloways Milk Bar venue in 1990. Pure Sexy
was directly inspired by another Ibizan club, Pacha, the home of
the beautiful people, and attracted a glamorous, fashion-conscious
mixed gay crowd - all hand-picked by Jenni, who soon became known
as the toughest doorperson in London to its soundtrack of
garage and Italian piano house. Pure Sexy and its successor, Glam,
proved to be almost as influential as Shoom had been, setting the
tone for the wave of smaller, more fashion-conscious clubs and parties
that sprang up as rave became a dirty word in the early nineties.
Rampling spent the next few years pursuing an ever more hectic
DJ schedule across the UK and abroad, while his sound began to take
on a harder, more European flavour. In the mid-nineties, following
trips to Thailand and exposure to the free party scene, he embraced
psychedelic trance. To Danny, the early trance scenes energy
and sense of unity was a welcome throwback to the Balearic and acid
house days of old, but the move puzzled those to whom the name Danny
Rampling was synonymous with vocals and piano-led house grooves.
Not that this bothered Radio 1, who signed him up to present the
weekly Lovegroove Dance Party show in 1996.
Yet the pressure of almost constant travelling coupled with years
of serious partying were always bound to catch up with him and Danny
suffered a breakdown in 1997, prompting him to take a few months
off from playing out. While resting, Danny became disillusioned
with the increasingly formulaic nature of trance, so when he did
return to the decks, he also returned to the sexy, vocal-led house
sound on which hed originally built his reputation.
The latest chapter in the Danny Rampling story began last year
when he accepted an invitation to take up a residency at Londons
newest superclub, Home. Its Dannys first
London residency for the best part of a decade, but it was the purpose-built,
state-of-the-art sound system Home have installed which sealed the
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Danny Rampling hasnt launched
his own record label, management company or similar business venture,
nor does he do TV voice-overs or endorsements, although he has released
a fistful of highly successful mix albums. Famously anti-cocaine,
he doesnt even hang out with music industry people in his
spare time, preferring instead the relatively simple pleasures of
cookery, surfing the net and TV, and hes actively involved
with the Free Tibet campaign.
Nor has he ever truly established himself as a producer. Sure,
hes made a few records along the way most notably Sound
Of Shooms I Hate Hate and a couple under the name of Millionaire
Hippies and done a few remixes too (D:Ream and Yello amongst
them), but he freely admits that hes still got a lot to learn
in the studio, even engaging a tutor from the London School of Music
Technology to help him master the fine art of knob-twiddling.
As an ever-obsessive record collector who often spends £300
a week on new vinyl, DJing remains Danny Ramplings first love.
With a DJ diary still full to bursting, one of the UK dance scenes
true pioneers is still going strong as ever.