Fatboy Slim (born Quentin Leo Cook on July 31, 1963, also known as Norman Cook) is a British big beat musician. He stopped using ‘Quentin’ and began calling himself ‘Norman’ while a schoolboy, long before he adopted many of his other pseudonyms. Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, has been involved in the music scene for other thirty years. However, it is hard to keep track of him because during his musical career he has operated under many different names in many different musical fields.
Long before Norman Cook became Fatboy Slim he had already contributed much to the world of music. According to James (2002) Cook started DJing at the age of 16. At 18, he began developing his skills on the thriving Brighton club scene. However, in 1985 he received a call from an old friend, Paul Heaton. Heaton had formed a Hull based guitar band called The Housemartins. The bassist from The Housemartins quit the day before their national tour and Cook agreed to move to Hull and join them. James (2002) adds that Cook was reluctant to join the band because he had lost his interest in the rock scene and could barely play a musical instrument. However, the band soon had a hit single with “Happy Hour”. They also reached number one just before Christmas 1986 with a version of “Caravan of Love”.
In 1998 The Housemartins had split up and Cook moved back to Brighton to pursue his interest in the style of music he preferred. Bogdanov et. al. (2001) explains that it was at this time he first started working with studio engineer Simon Thorton, with whom he continues to make records today. All of Cook’s records released since then have involved both of them to a varying degree. Bogdanov et. al. (2001) adds that after The Housemartins Cook became involved with the growing acid-house scene, pairing with producers Tim Jeffrey and JC Reid to form Pizzaman. The trio had top 40 hits together. James (2002) points out that one track featured on Pizzaman’s album, “Happiness”, was picked up by the Del Monte Foods corporation for use in a UK fruit juice commercial.
Norman Cook’s next musical outfits were Freakpower and Beats International. According to Taylor (2004) Beats International were a loose confederation of studio musicians including vocalists Lindy Layton, Lester Noel, D. J. Baptiste, rapper MC Wildski, and Keyboardist Andy Boucher. Their first album, “Let Them Eat Bingo”, included the number one single, “Dub Be Good to Me”. Taylor (2004) points out that the single caused a legal dispute revolving around allegations of infringement of copyright. It was claimed that it contained two unauthorised samples; the bassline was a lift from The Clash’s “The Guns of Brixton” and the song also borrowed heavily from the S.O.S Band’s “Just Be Good To Me”. Bogdanov et. al. (2001) explains that Cook then formed Freakpower, with horn player and singer Ashley Slater. The duo released their debut album, “Drive Thru Booty”, in 1994, which contained the single “Turn On Tune In Cop Out”. The single was picked up by Levi’s Jeans for use in a multimillion-dollar advertisement campaign. Freakpower split and then reformed in 1996 for their second album, “Everything for Everybody”.
Later in 1996, Cook adopted the alter-ego pseudonym Fatboy Slim and began frequenting the Brighton club The Big Beat Boutique. While DJing at the club, Cook befriended The Chemical Brothers, who suggested that he work on his own material instead of merely DJing. Taylor (2004) points out that Fatboy Slim’s album “Better Living Through Chemistry” marked Cook’s emergence into the big time. The album was among the first to introduce big beat sound, filled with retro samples and funky grooves. It produced one Top 40 Uk hit, “Everybody Needs a 303”. Taylor (2004) adds that Cook then topped the charts with a remix of Cornerhop’s “Brimful of Asha”. After that, such musical legends as Madonna and U2 asked him to produce for them.
Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, was now well on his way to becoming one of the biggest contributors to modern day music. Bogdanov et. al. (2001) explains that “The Rockafeller Skank” was the first single off Fatboy Slim’s eagerly anticipated album You’ve Come a Long Way Baby, in 1998. This album also produced the single “Praise You”, which also became a major dance hit, giving Cook his first UK solo number one. James (2002) points out that its video, directed by Spike Jonze, won many awards. Fatboy Slim songs from the album have also appeared in movies, television series, and commercials.
The next album was released in 2000, entitled Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars. James (2002) explains that the album featured two collaborations with Macy Gray, the songs “Lovelife” and “Demons”. It also included “Sunset (Bird of Prey)”, a slower tempo piece based around a sample of Jim Morrison (The Doors), and “Weapon of Choice”, which also boasted an award-winning video starring Christopher Walken.
Fatboy Slim’s fourth studio album, Palookaville, was realeased in 2004 after a four year break. According to Taylor (2004) the album represented a significant shift in style for cook, from loop and sample based compositions to more conventional song structures and many original recordings of real instruments. Taylor (2004) adds the album features “traditional” Fatboy Slim tracks such as “Jin Go Lo Ba” alongside full length vocal tracks that include a suitably updated rendition of the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker”.
In June 2006, Fatboy Slim released his greatest hits album, Why Try Harder. The Sunday Sun (2006) explains that it comprises of eighteen tracks, including 10 top 40 singles, a couple of Number Ones and two exclusive new tracks – “Champion Sound” and “That Old Pair Of Jeans”. The Sunday Sun (2006) describes the album as an over the top production of big beat dance tunes that don’t get any messier than this exceptional collection of singles and remixes. The Sunday Sun (2006) adds that Why Try Harder did much better than the previous