Quentin Leo Cook was raised in Reigate, Surrey, England, and was educated at Reigate Grammar School. He played drums in Disque Attack (a British new-wave-influenced rock band). When singer Charlie Alcock was told by his parents that he had to give up the band to concentrate on his O levels, Quentin took over as lead vocalist. At Reigate College he also met Paul Heaton with whom he formed the Stomping Pondfrogs. At 18, he went to the Brighton Polytechnic to study a BA in English, politics and sociology. Although he had begun DJing some years before, it was at this time that he began to develop his skills on the thriving Brighton club scene.
Known as DJ Quentox (The OX that Rocks) Cook and DJ Baptiste started putting on Youth Club Hip Hop jams in Brighton, sowing the seeds of the City’s flourishing Hip Hop scene today. These primitive 80’s block parties are recalled in the music documentary ‘South Coast’ which documents Brighton’s cult Hip Hop scene from its grass roots to the present day.
In 1985 Cook’s friend Paul Heaton had formed a guitar band called The Housemartins. Their bassist quit 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”. 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. It was at this time that he first started working with young studio engineer Simon Thornton, with whom he continues to make records. All Cook’s records released from that point onwards have involved both of them to varying degrees (Thornton is credited in 2004 as “Executive Producer” for example).
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”, the song followed the basic template of what was to come in the style of the music of Beats International. It became a modest hit in the UK Singles Chart, reaching #29.
Cook formed Beats International, 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”, which caused a legal dispute revolving around allegations of infringement of copyright through the liberal 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 1991 follow-up album Excursion on the Version, an exploration of dub and reggae rhythms, failed to repeat the success of its predecessor.
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 the second album More of Everything for Everybody.
In 1995, Cook enlisted help from producer friends Tim Jeffery and JC Reid to create a solo house music album under the Pizzaman pseudonym. The Pizzamania album spawned 3 UK Top 40 hits in “Trippin’ on Sunshine”, “Sex on the Streets” and “Happiness”. “Happiness” was picked up by the Del Monte Foods corporation for use in a UK fruit juice ad. The music videos for “Trippin’ on Sunshine”, “Sex on the Streets” and “Happiness” were all directed by Michael Dominic.
Cook is also behind a 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.
The Fatboy Slim album Better Living Through Chemistry (released through Skint Records) 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, directed by Spike Jonze, won numerous awards.
Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars was released in 2000 and featured two collaborations with Macy Gray and “Weapon of Choice”, which also was made into an award-winning video starring Christopher Walken.
In 2004, Palookaville was Cook’s first album for four years.
In 2005, Cook’s 2004 single “Wonderful Night” was used on Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 for PlayStation 2.
Fatboy Slim’s greatest hits album Why Try Harder was released on 19 June 2006. It 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”, which was released by Studio !K7 and Rapster Records in 2009. The tracks were called “Shelter” (which featured long time collaborator Lateef); and “Siente Mi Ritmo”, featuring Cuba’s top female vocal group “Sexto Sentido”. The recordings took place in 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 track recorded during these sessions entitled “Guaguanco” was released separately under the Mighty Dub Katz moniker in 2006.
In summer 2007, “The Rockafeller Skank” was used for season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance. In September 2007, the song was also featured on Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova 2 for PlayStation 2.
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.
13 July 2002. The Big Beach Boutique II, where more than 250,000 people saw Fatboy Slim play live.
On 13 July 2002, Fatboy Slim performed the second of his free, open air concerts on Brighton beach. Expecting a crowd of around 60,000 people, the event instead attracted an estimated 250,000 who crammed the promenade and beach between Brighton’s piers. Local police forced the event to end early amid safety concerns, overcrowding, and one death. After the music had finished and the crowd began to dissipate, traffic ensued throughout the Brighton area with many caught in traffic jams until the morning.
In June 2005 Fatboy Slim filled the Friday night headline slot on the ‘Other Stage’ at the Glastonbury Festival, a booking which actually generated a financial loss for Cook.
In 2006, Fatboy Slim filled the Saturday headline slot at the Global Gathering festival, Long Marston Airfield in the English Midlands. He played a two hour set, appearing in front of a visual stage set comprising video screens and 3D lighting. A firework display rounded off the show.
After being banned by police from playing in Brighton since 2002, Fatboy Slim was given permission in 2006 to play again in his home town. On 1 January 2007 he played to an audience of more than 20,000 fans along Brighton’s seafront. Titled ‘Fatboy Slim’s Big Beach Boutique 3′, tickets to the event were made available only to Brighton residents. The concert was deemed a stunning success by Sussex Police, Fatboy Slim, and the crowd. The Cuban Brothers and David Guetta opened the concert. The next similar event, ‘Big Beach Boutique 4′, was held on 27 September 2008.
In 2008, Fatboy Slim played at the Glastonbury Festival again, and headlined the O2 Wireless Festival and Rockness Festival. According to an NME interview, this may have been one of the last times he performed as Fatboy Slim, as he may now focus on his new album, Brighton Port Authority (The BPA).
In 2009, Fatboy Slim toured Australia in the Good Vibrations festival. Also In 2009, Fatboy Slim Played In Marlay Park, Ireland. Alongside David Guetta, Dizzee Rascal & Calvin Harris; as well as one huge performance at the Sziget Festival in Budapest. He also has performed at V Festival 2009.