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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Norman Cook's long way to stardom
Norman Cook
Norman Cook: You've Come A Long Way, Baby

Weapon of Choice, which has just won six MTV awards, exemplifies Norman Cook's imaginative use of the pop video medium for his dance alter ego, Fatboy Slim.

Working with director Spike Jonze - who directed the film Being John Malkovich - Cook drafted in actor Christopher Walken to play an exhausted businessman in an empty hotel lobby - who suddenly gets an urge to do a song and dance number.

His previous video, Sunset (Bird of Prey) employed 60s film clips and a jet bomber, while the video for The Rockerfeller Skank was a style salad featuring afros, cowboy hats, bellbottoms and breakdancing.

Fatboy Slim, director Spike Jonze, and actor/dancer Christopher Walken
Walken appears in the Fatboy Slim video
In 1999 he won three MTV awards for the video Praise You - for best direction, best choreography and best breakthrough video.

It is a measure of Cook's American profile that the following year the song was being used at presidential candidate Al Gore's rallies.

Punk

Quentin Cook - his real name, though he prefers the first name Norman - has come a long way since his childhood in Reigate, Surrey, where he was inspired to make music by seeing Donny Osmond on television.

He started a punk fanzine as a teenager and at sixth-form college met Paul Heaton, who later moved to Hull and formed a guitar band called The Housemartins.

When the original bass player quit in 1985 Cook moved to Hull to join them.

Norman Cook and Zoe Ball
Cook married Zoe Ball in August 1999
They reached number one just before Christmas 1986 with a version of Caravan of Love, but by 1988 they had split up.

Heaton and the band's drummer Dave Hemingway returned with the Beautiful South, while Cook moved to Brighton to pursue his new love - dance music.

Chameleon

His next project, Beats International, reached number one with Dub Be Good To Me, but a year later he became depressed. His first wife, a nurse, left him, and his career began to fall apart.

In keeping with the pattern of his chameleon career he formed a new group, Freakpower, with jazz trombonist and singer Ashley Slater and scored a big hit with Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out.

He also released other records under different names such as Pizzaman and Mighty Dub Katz.

His next alias was the one that has stuck: Fatboy Slim.

Chemistry

Recording for a new record label, Skint, Norman Cook evolved a style of 'big beat' dance music along with acts like the Chemical Brothers, was an almost instant success.

1996's Better Living Thru Chemistry was followed by You've Come A Long Way Baby in 1998 - a huge hit which produced a series of chart singles.

Norman Cook
Cook is in high demand to remix others' material
In August 1999 he married BBC radio DJ and TV presenter Zoe Ball, whom he had met in Ibiza the year before.

November 2000's Halfway Between the Gutter And The Stars featured guest appearances by soul legends Bootsy Collins and Macy Gray.

Norman Cook has long been in demand as a remixer by major stars - though he has been choosy enough to turn down Madonna, among others.

His new single, Ya Mama has just been released - and, unsurprisingly, is expected to chart this weekend.

See also:

24 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Zoe and Fatboy have a ball
07 Sep 01 | Music
Fatboy Slim rakes in MTV awards
07 Sep 01 | Music
In pictures: MTV Awards
01 Aug 01 | Music
Fatboy tops MTV birthday vote
07 Nov 00 | New Music Releases
CD Review: Fatboy Slim
21 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Wedded bliss for Zoe and Fatboy
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