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Pete Tong

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Pete Tong is Britain’s best-loved dance DJ. He doesn’t need an award to prove his popularity and he won’t act cool to keep his credibility. The host of Radio 1’s ground-breaking Essential Selection show for a staggering eight years, he works within the mainstream, but is respected by the underground.

Born in Dartford, educated in Rochester and inspired in his teens by the underground soul scene of the late seventies (and the music of the time…by the likes of Funkadelic, James Brown & Evelyn “Champagne” King) Pete’s first DJ job was at a wedding. He was 15 years old. A natural born entrepreneur, he began promoting local bands, booking gigs in a nearby town hall and - as part of the Kent ‘Soul Mafia’ - playing black soul & dance music in every club that would give him a gig. After leaving school, he bought a Transit van and set up his own sound system.

In 1979, Pete became a journalist for monthly magazine Blues & Soul. By the following year, he was features editor, a position he would hold until ‘83. At the same time, he was appearing on local radio stations such as BBC Radio Medway and London. Then he got his first break with Radio 1, presenting a regular 15 minute ‘magazine’ feature on dance music on Peter Powell’s show. “That was a strange experience, but also very exciting,” says Pete. “Radio 1 was at the peak of its popularity. I had to say what was happening on the streets. I was the first person to play Malcolm McLaren’s Buffalo Gals on the radio.”

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