This is someone who has been on the pop music scene for a long time, eventually becoming a pioneer in the dance genre. Norman Cook first came to fame as a member of The Housemartins, whose hits included “Caravan Of Love”, which was performed a cappella, and was a chart-topper in December 1986. This was expected to also be the Christmas Number One, but was surprisingly beaten at the last minute by a piece of plasticine.
After releasing a few singles under his own name in the late-80s, he formed Beats International, who in February 1990 released “Dub Be Good To Me”, which was also a chart-topper. He then worked under various other aliases throughout the 90s, including Freak Power, Mighty Dub Katz, and Pizzaman. But his most successful time working as a DJ and producer was under the name FatBoy Slim.
This started out fairly quietly, when in September 1996, “Better Living Through Chemistry”, which was his first album under this name, reached only no. 69, and he had a few minor hit singles in 1997. It was in 1998 when he suddenly became an in-demand remixer, these are two of the highlights. In April 1995, British producer Roger McKenzie, under the name Wildchild, released “Legends Of The Dark Black Part 2”, which reached no. 34.
This was re-released in October 1995 as “Renegade Master”, even though this was exactly the same song (a touch of the “Combat Dancing EP”/”Mr Kirk’s Nightmare” unusualness like what 4Hero did in 1990). This earned him an appearance on Top Of The Pops, but barely a month on from this, Roger died at the age of 24 from a heart condition. In January 1998, “Renegade Master” was back once again when this received the FatBoy Slim treatment, reaching the Top 40 for a third time.
Another triumph was Cornershop’s “Brimful Of Asha”. This had previously reached no. 60 in August 1997, but in February 1998, the FatBoy Slim remix became a chart-topper. Although they had already been around for several years, this virtually unknown group were now at the top of the chart, and they seemed as surprised as anybody else about this (people were also amused by the fact that the lyrics contained the word “bosom”, kind of distracting from the point that this was trying to make).
Suddenly everything he remixed turned to gold (discs). But pleasingly, he also saved a few classics for himself. In June 1998, “The Rockafeller Skank” became his first Top Ten hit single under his FatBoy Slim name, and this seems to have been played on the radio at least once every single day since. “Gangster Trippin'” was another great one, and his second album “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby” was a big success, being a chart-topper for four weeks.
Further hits followed in 1999, including Number One “Praise You” (meaning that he had now had a chart-topper as a member of three different acts), “Right Here Right Now”, and the lesser-remembered “Badder Badder Schwing”, a collaboration with Freddy Fresh that Chris Moyles used as a bed on his BBC Radio 1 show for a while. Going into the 2000s, he had plenty more hits, and the video for “Weapon Of Choice” seemed to win dozens of awards too.