The don of British dance DJs, Pete Tong has maintained his status as the most influential man in British dance through his weekly Essential Selection radio show on BBC Radio One (broadcast to an estimated one million listeners) as well as his club gigs in front of thousands of people. Born in Dartford, Kent in 1960, Tong played drums in a school band during his teenage years, but later switched to DJing. After leaving school, he worked as a mobile DJ playing weddings and parties during the late '70s, and did time at small record labels as well. By 1983, Tong had hired in with London Records as an A&R representative, and several years later his position exposed him to the house music coming out of Chicago. After meeting with the owners of DJ International and Trax Records (the two most important Chicago house labels), Tong organized a 1986 compilation entitled The House Sound of Chicago, Vol. 1, the first British release to deal with the sound. He had never given up DJing during his stint with London Records, and he began hyping the style at clubs around London, leading to its breakout during the late '80s. When the BBC began giving airt ime to house music, Tong was a natural choice to lead the sessions, and his Essential Selection radio show (broadcast every Friday night) became the place for club kids -- as well as label executives -- to learn about the latest in dance music. Tong's reputation grew as big and as fast as the world-wide popularity of house music during the early '90s, and he released several collections detailing his mixing skills -- four volumes of the Dance Nation series, as well as compilations from the Essential Selection show. ~ John Bush
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