Hot from the Reading Festival, Creamfields Liverpool and the last of 11 summer sets at Amnesia Ibiza – all in the same week – Gibraltar is calling Fatboy Slim to headline its new MTV music festival stage next month.
Belinda Beckett profiles the DJ Dad with a fad for Hawaiian shirts who’s still ruling the raves, mixing the sounds and spinning the decks for kids a third his age.
He’s the cool club act every hipster is pumped up to see and a main stage mainstay of the pop festival circuit, rocking up his 17th consecutive Glastonbury this year. It’s hard to believe Fatboy Slim, musician, record producer and multi-instrumentalist, has a son old enough to be grooving alongside him.
He harks from the pioneer days of the superstar turntablists whose cross-faders, mixers and drum machines showed the Tony Blackburn generation what DJ-ing was all about. He’s the proud owner of 10 MTV gongs, three Brit Awards, an Ivor Novello Award and a Grammy and he performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics on top of a giant inflatable octopus.
In the third act of his career, he’s equally at home making his own music, remixing tracks for other artists or producing numbers for movies and stage musicals. And at 54, he can still transfix an unruly party crowd with his bombastic trip-hop-out-of-acid-house big beat sound.
“I do about 70 shows a year,” he says. “I could probably do 300. The first wave of big DJs – Oakie, Pete Tong, Carl Cox – we don’t know what the retirement age is. As long as we can make it to gigs, stay up till 6am and provide the service, no one seems to care how old we are.”
Gibraltar will be his last gig of the season but these days he’s more likely to be catching the next flight home to see the kids than hanging out at after parties. Once half of a couple known as the Posh and Becks of the E (for Ecstasy) Generation, he is a wiser and more sober man.
To paraphrase the title of his 1990 breakthrough album, he’s Come A Long Way Baby since the days when, to quote another, he was Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars.
He has survived mid life crisis, rehab and a split from his presenter wife Zoe Ball after 18 years of marriage and found a substitute for the excessive vodka and orange habit that fuelled his electric performances…
Words Belinda Beckett