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Artist Profiles :: Fatboy Slim

Fatboy SlimToday Fatboy Slim is one of the hottest pop stars and DJs on the planet. One of the few dance acts to really crack America, he has reached a level of success that most DJ/producers could never hope for. He’s had several number one singles and albums, he’s remixed a string of anthems and holds the record for the most UK chart entries under different recording pseudonyms.. And he owes it all to an ear for unashamedly good-time party records, a lack of respect for musical boundaries and a knack for infectious samples.

Norman Cook was born Quentin Cook in 1963 and grew up in Redhill, near London. His parents record collection was mostly composed of Beatles and Carpenters records, but he discovered funk and soul in his mid-teens and he’s had a passion for black and dance music ever since. He began his DJing career by bringing records to parties and after moving to Brighton to go to college, he supplemented his meagre student income by DJing on the side.

In 1985 he was recruited as bassist for The Housemartins, a Hull-based indie group with a nice line in sensitive, politically-aware lyrics who went on to record two successful albums and score a number one hit with Caravan Of Love. Yet Cook’s heart was never really in it and it came as something of a relief when the band split a couple of years later. Lead singer Paul Heaton went on to form the hugely successful group, The Beautiful South, another member spent some time At Her Majesty’s Pleasure, but Norman began to indulge his love of dance music.

He formed the dub pop band Beats International in the late eighties and the band went on to record two albums, their biggest success coming in the shape of a number one, Dub Be Good To Me, a cover of Just Be Good To Me set to a bassline sampled from The Clash’s Guns Of Brixton. Yet the pressures of his failing marriage led to a personal crisis for Norman and the band subsequently fell apart.

However his success launched a studio and remix career which has continued to this day. Records like A Tribe Called Quest’s I Left My Wallet In El Segundo, Shakatak’s Better Believe It and Ruthless Rap Assassins’ And It Wasn’t A Dream were amongst his first mixes, and he scored another pop hit with Won’t Talk About It/Blame It On The Bassline, which featured Beats International singer Lindy Layton on vocals.

A turning point came in 1992 when Cook attended a Junior Boys Own party in Bognor Regis where, aided by his second ever dose of ecstasy, he was converted to house music – which he had hated up until then - by classic tracks like Robert Owens I’ll Be Your Friend and Clivilles & Cole's Pride (A Deeper Love). Cook subsequently formed funk group Freakpower with Ashley Slater, previously of Microgroove. They released their debut album, Drive Thru Booty, in 1994, but it wasn’t until Levi’s chose Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out for a multi-million pound advertising campaign that the group really hit the big time, scoring a number two hit in 1995.

Whilst working on Freakpower’s second album, Cook hooked up with Tim Jeffrey and JC Reid from Brighton-based Loaded Records and launched a series of side projects under a variety of pseudonyms, such as Pizzaman and Mighty Dub Kats, with considerable success. Pizzaman scored several club hits like Trippin’On Sunshine – which reached number 1 in Canada and went top 5 in Holland - and Sex On The Streets, followed by the successful Pizzamania LP. Another track, Happiness, was picked up for use in a Del Monte advertising campaign. The Mighty Dub Kats, meanwhile, scored big with Magic Carpet Ride in 1997.

It was around this time that Lindy Layton took Cook to a couple of London club nights, Heavenly Social and Big Kahuna Burger, which were pioneering a new club soundtrack. Cook found kindred spirits in the shape of the Social’s resident DJs, the Chemical Brothers, who mixed up a raucous blend of rock, dance, indie and hip-hop for a boozy party crowd hungry for an alternative to the tyranny of house and techno. This approach dovetailed perfectly with Cook’s own kitchen-sink approach to DJing and, inspired by what he’d seen in London, Cook helped set up the Big Beat Boutique night in Brighton where he became resident DJ. The term ‘Big Beat’ was soon adopted as a genre in its own right, describing a brand of dance music which combined hip-hop-inspired beats with rock sounds and acid house attitude.

Freakpower released another album and spent a year touring, but failed to recapture their previous success, blaming a lack of record company support. They switched to influential dance label Deconstruction, but released just one single for the label in 1997 before Cook’s career entered its final and most successful phase.

Want to know more? check out this CD...
A Break From the Norm
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