"I am a club DJ. I am not a pop star," says Norman Cook, better known as Fatboy Slim. From his early days as a member of the Housemartins, through his years as a budding turntable artist, he had some equally clear ideas about where his ground-
breaking career was going.
"I was a white bloke who liked dance music or 'black music' as it was called back then," he recalls. But the real challenge? He says: "I wanted to make black music without sounding like Simply Red."
Born Quentin Cook on July 16, 1963, in Bromley, Kent, the artist currently known as Fatboy Slim was raised in the town of Redhill, Surrey, the son of an MBE-holding environmental consultant dad and a schoolteacher mum. He later studied English, politics and sociology at Brighton Polytechnic, and would make his home in the coastal town.
In 1985, he changed his name to Norman and started a career with Caravan Of Love popsters the Housemartins. After leaving the group three years later during which time he had a short-lived marriage to Philippa Watson he topped the charts as part of a number of dance club acts including Beats International, Pizzaman, Mighty Dub Kats and Freakpower, before adopting his latest pseudonym.
Norman, who would later earn a place in the Guinness Book Of Records for achieving the most UK Top 40 hits under different names, became Fatboy Slim while DJ-ing at a London club where his pals the Chemical Brothers were also spinning discs. After finding a lack of songs he wanted to hear, he began to create tracks in his home studio "that I wish somebody else had made, but they hadn't".
Fatboy's "big beat" sound helped the Brighton musician once again top the UK charts. His Better Living Through Chemistry a nod to his friends the Chemical Brothers and a well-documented predilection for party substances helped him break the international scene in 1997. His 1998 single The Rockefeller Skank marked his mainstream arrival Stateside. "In England I'm a venerable old granddaddy, but in America, it's 'this thrusting new talent'," he says. "It's all quite amusing."
With his highly-publicised hedonistic lifestyle, the self-described "happy drunken idiot" seemed to put his private life on the back burner. Until he met radio DJ Zoe Ball, that is. After sparks flew at a 1998 gig, the two got engaged on Valentine's Day, 1999. "My love life has put me into a place where I've never been before," said the love struck artist in May of that year. "I've changed because of Zoe. She's a good influence and keeps me out of trouble. When you're in love, you don't need to slap about so much."
The celebrity couple quietly married at a Bath register office in August of that year, following the secret ceremony with a £300,000 bash attended by hundreds of friends and family members. In December 2000, the superstar DJ and his new wife, by then known as a reformed "Queen of the Ladettes" welcomed their son, Woody.
Though they quickly gained a reputation as one of the most stable couples on the UK show biz scene, four years down the line the blissful union hit a crisis, with Zoe and Norman announcing a trial separation. "We are determined to try and make it work again," the father-of-one announced, however.
And it seems his home life is where the musician is focusing in the future, saying that maintaining his career isn't his first priority. "I don't mind if I'm less successful," he says. "I have been to the mountaintop. If you lose it when you are 40, that is okay. By then I can do the school run every day and coach the kid's football team."