Fatboy Slim: First Glastonbury show with The Housemartins was ‘pivotal moment’

·3-min read

Fatboy Slim has reminisced about his first time playing Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage saying he’s “spent the rest of his career” trying to get back on it.

The DJ, real name Norman Cook, is now a household name but first performed at the music festival on Worthy Farm more than three decades ago as part of indie rock group, The Housemartins.

Glastonbury Festival opened its gates again this week for the first time in three years after being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Cook, 58, one of the performers on the bill.

He told the festival’s on-site newspaper, the Glastonbury Free Press, about his first experience playing at the event, saying: “It was playing the Pyramid Stage with the Housemartins in 1986.

Common People Festival – Southampton
Fatboy Slim has performed at Glastonbury every year since 1996 (David Jensen/PA)

“Much to my shame, I thought it would be filled with old, stoned, bearded hippies who’d come from Stonehenge after the solstice. And we thought they’d all be flinging mud at us. We were pleasantly surprised to find out it wasn’t like that at all.”

Other big names at Glastonbury in 1986 included The Pogues, The Waterboys, The Cure, Level 42, Simply Red and Madness.

Cook shot to fame as Fatboy Slim in 1996 with the release of the album Better Living Through Chemistry and his other musical hits include Right Here, Right Now and Praise You.

He said of the 1986 performance with The Housemartins: “It was a pivotal moment for us. It was the biggest crowd we had ever played to.

“We were on in the early afternoon, on a Sunday, and it was even more of a shock to be playing in daylight for the first time.

“We were punching well above our weight by playing the Pyramid Stage.

“We only released our debut album (on) the Monday after Glastonbury. I’ve spent the rest of my career trying to get back on the Pyramid Stage.”

He has gone on to become a Glastonbury regular and, this year, has three slots on the bill, two announced and one he says is “a slightly silly, below-the-radar set that’s a bit of a secret” and his son Woody will also be DJing this year.

He added of having performed at every Glastonbury since 1996: “Even when I’ve not been booked, I’ve turned up and Michael and Emily Eavis have very kindly found me an unannounced slot to play on a small stage”.

The musician said he was looking forward to seeing Sir Paul McCartney, Saturday’s Pyramid Stage headliner, as well as Australian electronic group, The Avalanches.

Asked about his first sober Glastonbury, he told the Glastonbury Free Press: “My first sober Glastonbury was weird. So many crazy things go on at Glastonbury that you think they’re happening because you’re off your nut.

“But I remember wandering around sober and realising, no, there is actually a door in the middle of a field, and there are people at night knocking on this door, waiting for someone to answer it. When you’re sober you don’t take these things for granted.

“There is a small club called the Miniscule of Sound, with bouncers and a tiny PA, that holds about eight people, and when I offered to DJ there, they asked me to send them a demo tape and they might consider me for the next night’s show.

“If I’d experienced that drunk, I would genuinely have assumed it was some feverish fantasy.”