Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim)

Superstar DJ Norman Cook was born in Bromley, on 31 July 1963 He was raised in Reigate, Surrey, England, and educated at Reigate Grammar School. He played drums in Disque Attack, a British new wave-influenced rock band. When frontman Charlie Alcock was told by his parents that he had to give up the band to concentrate on his O levels, Cook took over as lead vocalist. At The Railway Tavern in Reigate, Cook met Paul Heaton with whom he formed the Stomping Pondfrogs. At 18, Cook went to Brighton Polytechnic to read a B.A. in English, politics, and sociology, where he achieved a 2:1 in the British Studies honours course. He also regularly appeared at the Brighton Belle and the students’ favourite The Basement, where known as DJ Quentox he began laying the base for Brighton’s hip hop scene.

In 1985, Cook’s friend Paul Heaton formed a guitar band called The Housemartins. Their bassist left on the eve of their first national tour, so Cook agreed to move to Hull to join them. The band soon had a hit single with “Happy Hour”, and two albums, London 0 Hull 4 and The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death. They also reached number one just before Christmas 1986 with a version of “Caravan of Love”, originally a hit the year before for Isley-Jasper-Isley. However, by 1988 they had split up. Heaton and the band’s drummer Dave Hemingway went on to form The Beautiful South, while Cook moved back to Brighton to pursue his interest in the style of music he preferred. He started working with young studio engineer Simon Thornton, with whom he continues to make records.

Cook achieved his first solo hit in 1989, featuring his future Beats International member MC Wildski, called “Blame It on the Bassline”. Credited to “Norman Cook feat. MC Wildski”. He formed Beats International, a loose confederation of studio musicians including vocalists Lindy Layton and Lester Noel, rappers D.J. Baptiste and MC Wildski, and keyboardist Andy Boucher. Their first album, Let Them Eat Bingo, included the number one single “Dub Be Good to Me”, which caused a legal dispute Concerning infringement of copyright due to the use of unauthorised samples: the bassline was a note-for-note lift from “The Guns of Brixton” by The Clash and the lyrics borrowed heavily from “Just Be Good to Me” by The S.O.S. Band.

The subsequent court case bankrupted Cook. Cook then released The 1991 album Excursion on the Version, an exploration of dub and reggae music. Cook then formed Freak Power with horn player Ashley Slater and singer Jesse Graham. They released their debut album Drive-Thru Booty in 1994, which contained the single “Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out”. The cut was picked up by the Levi’s company for use in a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign. In 1996, Cook re-joined Freak Power for their second album, More of Everything for Everybody. Cook enlisted help from producer friends Tim Jeffery and JC Reid to create a house music album under the name Pizzaman. The 1995 Pizzamania album spawned three UK Top 40 hits: “Trippin’ on Sunshine”, “Sex on the Streets”, and “Happiness”. “Happiness”. Cook also formed the group The Mighty Dub Katz along with Gareth Hansome (aka GMoney), Cook’s former flatmate. Together they started the Boutique Nightclub in Brighton, formerly known as the Big Beat Boutique and released the single “Magic Carpet Ride”.

In 1996 Cook adopted the new pseudonym Fatboy Slim and released his second solo album, Better Living Through Chemistry 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 1999, he performed “Praise You” at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City, and won three awards, including the award for Breakthrough Video.[9] The 2000 album also included “Sunset (Bird of Prey)”. 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 music video, starring Christopher Walken.At the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards in New York, Fatboy Slim won six awards for “Weapon of Choice”, the most awards at the ceremony.

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 in 2006 and 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”.

In 2006, Cook travelled to Cuba, and wrote and produced two original Cuban crossover tracks for the album The Revolution Presents: Revolution. “Shelter” (which featured long term collaborator Lateef); and “Siente Mi Ritmo”, featuring Cuba’s top female vocal group Sexto Sentido, recordedat Cuba’s legendary EGREM Studios, home of the Buena Vista Social Club, and featured a band made up of Cuba’s top young musicians, including Harold Lopez Nussa. Another song “Guaguanco” was released by the Mighty Dub Katz

The Brighton Port Authority debuted in 2008 with a collaboration with David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal titled “Toe Jam”, along with a music video featuring nude dancers with censor bars on them. The soundtrack album for the TV series Heroes also includes The Brighton Port Authority’s track “He’s Frank (Slight Return)” (a cover of a song by The Monochrome Set), with Iggy Pop as vocalist. The video for this track features a near life size puppet of Iggy Pop. An alternative club version was released under the “He’s Frank (Washing Up)” title with the video featuring some footage of Iggy Pop acting and saying lyrics.

The band’s first album, I Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat was released in 2009 and, is the first to be co-produced by Cook’s longtime engineer Simon Thornton, who also sings on one track. Cook also released a mix album in 2010 titled The Legend Returns as a covermount album in the June 2010 issue of Mixmag. Cook returned as Fatboy Slim when performing at Ultra Music Festival in Miami in March 2012. He also performed at the 2012 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony, and at Brighton Pride. In 2011 Cook produced the single “Mama Do the Hump” by fellow Brighton band Rizzle Kicks. Cook has also been responsible for successful remixes for Cornershop, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, and Wildchild. In 2008, he did a remix of the track “Amazonas” for the charity Bottletop. In 2013 Cook released the song “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat Which Calvin Harris remixed, with Beardyman providing the vocals. In May 2015, Cook compiled The Fatboy Slim Collection,

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