Home Entertainment Idris Elba presents Pete Tong with lifetime achievement award

Idris Elba presents Pete Tong with lifetime achievement award

DJ and broadcaster Pete Tong has been honoured with the Music Industry Trusts (MITS) Award, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to music.

Best known for his Radio 1 show, Tong has been a crucial part of dance music’s evolution, as a DJ, recording artist and tastemaker.

As a record label executive, he also signed acts like Run DMC, Frankie Knuckles, Goldie and Salt-n-Pepa.

He was handed his award by Idris Elba at a lavish ceremony in central London.

Organisers said the broadcaster was being recognised for his “tireless commitment to the music he loves”.

The ceremony was attended by some of music’s biggest names, including Duran Duran, DJ Spoony and Nile Rodgers. There were also special performances from New Order, Becky Hill and Norman Jay MBE.

“I’m seriously thrilled and humbled to be standing here,” said Tong at the ceremony, “because I think this is recognition of dance music’s and club culture’s influence and success.

“Looking round this room, there are so many people that have been on that journey with me so this is for all of you.”

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Image caption,Idris Elba, who presented Tong with his trophy, has previously DJ’d alongside the star

Born in Dartford, Kent in 1960, Tong played drums in a school band during his teenage years before becoming a mobile DJ, playing at weddings and birthday parties.

In the 80s, he became a music writer for the influential Blues & Soul magazine, which led to jobs at both Radio 1 and London Records.

There, he was exposed to the sounds of Chicago’s nascent house scene, which inspired him to put together the 1986 compilation album, The House Sound of Chicago, Vol. 1, helping introduce the sound to the UK.

When Radio 1 wanted to launch a show about the dance scene, he was the natural choice and his Essential Selection show was instrumental in the station’s rebranding in the 1990s.

The show is still on the air today, making Tong the network’s second longest-serving DJ, after Annie Nightingale.

Image caption,Tong’s Essential Selection was the first Radio 1 show to broadcast from dance music mecca, Ibiza

The 90s also saw him work with New Order, bringing them over to London Records after the demise of Manchester’s Factory, and encouraging them to embrace elements of contemporary club music.

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“If it wasn’t for Pete, certain New Order songs may never have been released into the world,” said frontman Bernard Sumner. “It’s brilliant to see him being recognised by the music industry… and flying the flag for the dance and electronic music genre, that can often be overlooked by industry bodies.”

In 2015, he oversaw a special concert at the BBC Proms, dubbed the Ibiza Prom. Embellishing classic dance tunes with orchestral arrangements, the show was such a hit that it spawned a series of albums and tours with Jules Buckley’s Heritage Orchestra.

His influence and reputation is such that his name has even entered rhyming slang, with the phrase “It’s all gone Pete Tong”, denoting a moment when calamity strikes.

The phrase also became the title of a 2004 film, starring Paul Kaye as an Ibiza DJ whose hearing loss threatens his career. Tong acted as a producer on the movie, and also made a brief cameo as himself.

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Appointed MBE in the 2014 New Year Honours , he is only the second DJ to receive the MITS award after Alan “Fluff” Freeman – whose Pick Of The Pops chart show ran for almost 40 years.

Other recipients include Andrew Lloyd Webber, Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Annie Lennox and Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis.

“I think this is an award for dance music and dance culture, and everybody involved in that world,” Tong told Music Week ahead of Monday’s ceremony.

“In terms of dance culture, it’s a breakthrough. It’s a great acknowledgement for the whole movement.”

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