Norman Cook, better known as Fatboy Slim, is one of the most successful dance artists of all time. He’s scored numerous international hits with his hook-heavy, party-friendly tracks (often accompanied by innovative, subversive music videos) and he remains one of the world’s most in-demand DJs. Building on the sample-based sound of his previous projects (Beats International, Mighty Dub Katz), Cook helped usher in the mid-’90s big beat movement — filled with boisterous breakbeats and pilfered guitar riffs, among other ear-catching sounds. His second album, 1998’s You've Come a Long Way, Baby, contained four British Top Ten hits (led by “Praise You” and “Right Here, Right Now”), became a multi-platinum success, and earned notice as one of the year’s most critically acclaimed albums. His popularity continued with 2000′s collaboration-heavy Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars, in addition to mix albums like 2002′s Live on Brighton Beach. Following 2004′s relatively downbeat Palookaville, Cook formed the collaborative project Brighton Port Authority and also teamed with David Byrne for the 2010 concept album Here Lies Love. While more active as a DJ than a producer during the EDM boom of the 2010s, Fatboy continued sporadically releasing singles during the decade, scoring a major U.K. hit with 2013′s “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.” He also continued his lengthy run of mix CDs with 2020′s Back to Mine.
Born Quentin Leo Cook in Bromley, England, on July 31, 1963, he joined the Hull-based pop group the Housemartins in 1986, replacing founding member Ted Key. After the group split in 1988, Cook became involved with the burgeoning acid house scene, pairing with producers Tim Jeffrey and J.C. Reid toward the end of the decade to form Pizzaman. The trio issued three Top 40 hits together (“Trippin’ on Sunshine,” “Sex on the Streets,” and “Happiness”) before Cook splintered off to record with similarly styled outfits Freak Power and Beats International in the early ’90s.
He shut most of his other production activities down in the following years to focus on his solo project as Fatboy Slim, which began with a trio of singles and the full-length Better Living Through Chemistry. Cook was also called in to add his remixing skills to Jean-Jacques Perrey’s proto-electronica classic “E.V.A.,” released as a 12″ and CD single in 1997. In addition to his FBS work, Cook also recorded the Skip to My Loops sample CD, a popular studio tool sporting a mélange of sample-ready drum loops, analog squelches, and assorted noises. In early 1998, his remix of Cornershop’s “Brimful of Asha” spent several weeks at number one in the British charts.
Fatboy Slim’s eagerly anticipated second LP, You've Come a Long Way, Baby, followed later that year. The album went platinum in the U.S. and spawned four international hits, most notably “The Rockafeller Skank” and “Praise You,” which also boasted a Spike Jonze-directed video that earned three MTV Video Music Awards as well as two Grammy nominations. Songs from You've Come a Long Way, Baby ended up on countless soundtracks and commercials, cementing Fatboy Slim’s unique position as a critically acclaimed and immensely popular act.
Cook also recorded several mix albums, including the first disc of the Radio 1 compilation Essential Selection, Vol. 1 and his own On the Floor at the Boutique. The latter was released domestically in the U.S. in early 2000 to help fans withstand the wait for his third album, Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars, which arrived that fall. The album included hit collaborations with Macy Gray (“Demons”) and Bootsy Collins (“Weapon of Choice,” which had an award-winning video featuring Christopher Walken). Two mix albums — Live on Brighton Beach and Big Beach Boutique II — appeared in 2002. During 2003, Cook and his wife — popular British TV presenter Zöe Ball — separated for a brief period. They soon patched things up but the split was a heavy influence on 2004′s Palookaville, the most laid-back and moody Fatboy Slim album yet. Collecting his singles along with a couple of important remixes, The Greatest Hits: Why Try Harder appeared in 2006.
In 2008, Cook announced he would be retiring the Fatboy Slim name and launching a new project, Brighton Port Authority (or BPA for short), a musical concept group featuring special guest artists such as David Byrne, Iggy Pop, Dizzee Rascal, Martha Wainwright, and many more. BPA released the single “Toe Jam” in 2008. The following year, the Fatboy Slim brand continued to pop up, such as on the mix CD Dance Bitch. Meanwhile, under the BPA moniker, Cook released I Think We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat. His next project, released in 2010 as Fatboy Slim, involved production work, collaboration, and co-billing with Byrne on the Imelda Marcos concept release Here Lies Love. In 2011, he continued to tour across the globe, and in 2012 he was asked to perform at the London Olympics closing ceremony.
The next year, Cook scored a U.K. Top Ten hit with “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat,” which featured Riva Starr, vocals by Beardyman, and a remix by Calvin Harris. Over the following years, he continued headlining festival stages and releasing remix sets. Two singles, “Where U Iz” and “Boom F**king Boom” (featuring Beardyman) appeared in 2017. The updated compilation The Best of Fatboy Slim was issued in 2019. The following year saw the release of the minimalist club banger “All the Ladies,” a collaboration with Eats Everything. Fatboy Slim’s volume of the Back to Mine mix series arrived in 2020. ~ Sean Cooper & Neil Z. Yeung