Fatboy Slim

Fatboy Slim Biography

WITH songs such as "The Rockafeller Skank" and "Praise You" garnering commercial success and critical acclaim, many Americans probably assume that Fatboy Slim, the creator of those hits, only recently achieved pop stardom. Fact is, this British-based master of dance music has been working his craft for nearly 15 years. Heralded as perhaps the most gifted practitioner of the "big beat" sound - a sample-laden, funked-up pastiche of techno, rock, and rhythm and blues - 35-year-old Norman Cook (AKA Fatboy Slim) has paid his dues, and indeed aspiring artists would do well to look to his hard work and dedication as an example worth following.

Born July 13, 1963, into an upper middle class environment, Cook spent his childhood in Redhill, a small town just outside London where his father was employed as a glass manufacturer. His first musical influences came via his parents, whose record collection consisted mostly of albums by pop musicians such as the Beatles and the Carpenters. At the age of 16, however, Cook stumbled upon the work of black artists, and this discovery helped fuel his love of dance rhythms.

In the early '80s Cook moved to Brighton, England, to attend college. There, he supported himself with on-again, off-again stints DJ'ing at parties, weddings, and other social functions - a foreshadow of greater things to come. In 1985 Cook got what seemed to be a big break, when the Hull-based pop group the Housemartins recruited him to play bass. Uncomfortable with the band's style, however, and inspired by the success of his DJ friends Coldcut and Tim Simenon, Cook left the Britpop outfit two years later in order to chart his own musical course.

During the late '80s and early '90s, Cook began laying the groundwork for what would soon evolve into a lucrative career. While dabbling in remixes for other artists, he forged several productive musical alliances. First came Beats International, an artist collective that released two dub-heavy albums (and boasted a No. 1 single, "Dub Be Good to Me") before its members went their separate ways. Next came Freakpower, which Cook formed with horn player and singer Ashley Slater. Released in 1994, the duo's debut album, Drive Thru Booty, spawned a single ("Turn on Tune in Cop Out") that was picked up by the Levi company for use in a multimillion-dollar ad campaign.

In 1995, prior to beginning work on the second Freakpower album, Cook enlisted help from producer friends Tim Jeffery and JC Reid to flesh out his latest incarnation, "Pizzaman." In what was fast becoming a pattern, the album Pizzaman released that same year featured one track ("Happiness") that was picked up by the Del Monte corporation for use in a U.K. fruit juice ad. Barely pausing for breath, Cook then re-teamed with Ashley for a tour, which was followed by a second Freakpower album, titled Everything for Everybody, in 1996. Though the album fared well on the dance club circuit, Freakpower's label, Island Records, failed to push it in the marketplace.

As it turned out, label support was the least of Cook's concerns, as 1996 proved to be a watershed year. Adopting the alter-ego Fatboy Slim (a moniker, Cook insists, he chose for no reason other than that it seemed pleasing to the ear), Cook established a weekly residency at a fashionable Brighton venue called the Big Beat Boutique. Modeled after the Chemical Brothers' legendary (but now defunct) dance club, the Heavenly Social, the Boutique provided Cook free rein to parlay and perfect music that blurred the lines between rock, hip-hop, and rhythm 'n' blues. In the course of his work at the club, Cook befriended the Brothers themselves (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons), who encouraged him to apply his skills toward creating more original tunes.

Sporting a double-entendre title that was, in part, a nod toward Cook's new friends, Better Living Through Chemistry marked Fatboy Slim's entry into the big-time. Recorded over the course of one week in Cook's attic-studio - dubbed affectionately the "House of Love" - the album was released in England on Skint Records, a label Cook co-founded with Damien Harris after he was dumped by Island. Filled with retro samples and funk-laden grooves, Chemistry defined, more than any other album to that time, what the "big beat" sound was all about. The effort also spawned one Top 10 U.K. hit ("Everybody Needs a 303"). Nonetheless, Cook's brilliant remixes remained his strongest calling card, and indeed, after his revamp of Cornershop's "Brimful of Asha" topped the U.K. charts in 1997, roughly 150 artists - Madonna and U2 among them - came clamoring for his services.

Impressive as were the accolades that accompanied Better Living Through Chemistry, the praise paled in comparison to that generated by the album's follow-up. With the smash single, "The Rockafeller Skank," serving as a pre-album teaser, You've Come A Long Way Baby was released in the fall of 1998 to ecstatic reviews. Moreover, Hollywood embraced Fatboy Slim with a vengeance, as his songs found their way into films (Cruel Intentions; She's All That), sitcoms (Friends), and, of course, TV ads (Adidas). (Incidentally, Cook has no qualms regarding such appropriations of his songs; indeed, he insists his primary concern is to get his music heard via any means. Considering the fact that he received a whopping $42,500 for the use of "Rockafeller" in She's All That, however, it's a safe bet other considerations are at play).

In regard to current goings-on and future projects, Cook is currently wrapping up a mini-tour (he was a participant in Woodstock '99), about to wed British radio and TV personality Zoe Ball, and in recent months he's hinted he might record another Freakpower album, a duo recently resurrected for the Mystery Men soundtrack. Moreover, having previously named "The Rockafeller Skank" the best single of 1998, Spin magazine's critics recently ranked You've Come Along Way, Baby one of the Top 100 albums of the '90s. And in perhaps the most prestigious honor he's received to date (if one excludes Brad Pitt's attempts to get him to DJ a private party), Cook recently was awarded a star on the city of Brighton's Walk of Fame, right next to that of Winston Churchill.

Fatboy Slim Bio from Discogs

Born in the UK as Quentin Leo Cook on 31 July 1963. Married to radio DJ & television presenter Zoë Ball, thus son-in-law of British television personality Johnny Ball.

Cook adopted the new pseudonym Fatboy Slim in 1996. The Fatboy Slim album and Cook's second solo album Better Living Through Chemistry (released through Skint Records) contained the Top 40 UK hit, "Everybody Needs a 303".

Fatboy Slim's next work was the single "The Rockafeller Skank", released prior to the album You've Come a Long Way, Baby, both of which were released in 1998. "Praise You", also from this album, was Cook's first UK solo number one. Its music video, starring Spike Jonze, won numerous awards.

In 2000, Fatboy Slim released his third studio album, Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars, and featured two collaborations with Macy Gray and "Weapon of Choice", which also was made into an award-winning video starring Christopher Walken.

In 2003, he produced Crazy Beat and Gene by Gene from the Blur album Think Tank, and in 2004, Palookaville was Cook's first studio album for four years.

Fatboy Slim's greatest hits album Why Try Harder was released on 19 June 2006. It comprises eighteen tracks, including ten Top 40 singles, a couple of Number Ones and two exclusive new tracks – "Champion Sound" and "That Old Pair of Jeans". Most of the songs were shortened and heavily edited, resulting in almost fifteen minutes of unused space on the compact disc release. (wikipedia - edited)

Not simply a DJ, Norman Cook has surpassed this role as a producer whilst using one of many aliases; the chief one being Fatboy Slim.

Many UK DJ's have managed to crossover to a large extent in the US and beyond, however Norman Cook, under alias Fatboy Slim, has done much more than this.

Rather than being a faceless behind the decks head-down DJ, Norman's exuberant character whilst performing on the decks simply takes any audience with him regardless of the country or culture he is playing to.

His devotion to his chosen place of residence, Brighton, is legendary, even donning "I Love Brighton" T-shirts on occasion. Despite massive pressure to go wholly with a major label, he continues to stick with his original Brighton-based label Skint Records. He also has put-on two massive free beach parties on Brighton beach, as a thanks to the love and respect fellow residents of the city have given him.

On New Years Day 2007, he held the third beach event. Whilst it was forced to be scaled down and ticketed --due to Brighton City Council's heath & safety concerns-- this event shows his devotion to Brighton remains undiminished.

He staged a fourth event on Saturday 27 September 2008, "Big Beach Boutique 4" for Brighton residents only, just in time for the end of summer.

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