The ’90s were the dawn of the era of the DJ as megastar, paving the way for the chart-destroying über-DJs of today. This week, with two of the biggest names of that time period — Orbital and Paul Van Dyk — releasing albums, we thought it’d be fun to take a look back at some of the era’s icons and see what they’re up to today. While plenty of veterans are still doing exactly what they’ve always done, several have branched off in new directions and/or into entirely new careers. We’ve checked up on a few of those with more interesting career progressions after the jump. Superstar DJs, here we go!
The original multi-deck wizard upped and moved to Australia in the early 2000s, choosing to settle — for reasons known only to the man himself — in the Melbourne satellite town of Frankston (which, for anyone who’s not been to Melbourne, is like moving to Jersey or Orange County or something like that). Apparently he’s still there, as a friend of Flavorpill spotted him at Melbourne airport the other day, cases of records in hand as he boarded a flight.
Whereas most of his contemporaries are still doing pretty much what they’ve always done, Danny Rampling decided in 2005 to give it all away. Apparently his initial plan was to run a restaurant — he did an internship of sorts in Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen, which presumably involves getting sworn at a lot — but he ended up in property development. Although he’s since returned to DJing, his main focus remains on “eco-entrepreneurism,” building environmentally friendly houses. There’s an article about his new career right here. For good measure, he’s also written a book called Everything You Need to Know About DJing and Success.
Sasha & John Digweed
When someone writes a book about you called God Is a DJ (But He Only Warms Up for Sasha, you know you’ve done something right. Sasha came to represent the excesses of the ’90s better than just about anyone — he once turned down $50K for a two-hour show — and he’s rarely mentioned without his partner in crime. Sasha and Digweed go together like a horse and carriage (or a rave and a large bag of MDMA), and although they went their separate ways for most of the 2000s, they’ve performed on and off together since, much to the delight of old school fans.
If Sasha had a competitor for late ’90s excess, it was probably former Housemartins bassist Norman Cook, who recreated himself as Fatboy Slim in 1996 and carved a trail of destruction through the dance music scene for the next decade or so (as he noted in 2005, “Fatboy Slim is my alter ego… the difference between me and him is a bad Hawaiian shirt and half a bottle of vodka”). Perhaps the apogee of his success came with the notorious 2002 party in his home city of Brighton, England, when a quarter of a million people turned up to see him DJ on the beach — organizers expected 60,000, and the ensuing fiasco saw him banned from performing in the city for four years. These days, he’s something of a reformed character, having done a spell in rehab during 2009 and now living in domestic bliss with his wife and fellow former hellraiser Zoe Ball. He even ran the Brighton marathon a couple of years back!
In certain parts of the music world, “It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong” has entered popular parlance as rhyming slang for “It’s all gone a bit wrong,” which isn’t such a bad way to be immortalized. (The phrase was also used for the title of a 2004 film.) It hasn’t really gone Pete Tong for the man himself, though — he’s still doing what he’s always done: helming his long-running BBC Radio 1 program and making a fortune DJing. He returned to his old stamping ground of Ibiza a couple of years back, starting a new night at Pacha called… yes, “All Gone Pete Tong.” The more things change, the more they stay the same.