Pete Tong has said that he is “proud” to have received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).
The British DJ has been recognised for his services to broadcasting and music in the New Year Honours List List 2014.
In a statement, Tong thanked BBC Radio 1 and various club promoters that he has worked with during his career.
He said: “It’s great to receive this honour for being a DJ. I’m proud that it acknowledges a profession that I care about a great deal, and one that’s made a huge impact around the world.
“I’d like to thank BBC Radio 1 for its unerring commitment to dance and electronic music and for supporting and encouraging me for over two decades.
“I’d like to thank all the club promoters in the UK and around the world for their passion and commitment to putting on amazing events and the artists, producers and DJs that have been making and innovating with the music.” He added: “This wouldn’t have happened without so many great tunes. Finally, to my family and team who have supported me on this journey in so many ways – thank you.”
The phrase “It’s all gone Pete Tong”, where the name is used as rhyming slang for “a bit wrong”, was reputedly first coined by Paul Okenfold in late 1987 in an article about acid house called “Bermondsey Goes Balearic” for Terry Farley and Pete Heller’s Boys Own fanzine. It’s All Gone Pete Tong is also the title of a 2004 film which portrays a fictional DJ’s experiences as he realizes he is becoming deaf. Tong appears briefly in the film. It is also the name Tong has adopted for his club night at the nightclub Pacha in Ibiza and other clubs around the world.
Tong’s first appearance on radio was in the late 1970s on Radio Invicta 92.4fm, Europe’s first soul station. He joined a rotation of nightclub DJs including Steve Walsh, Chris Hill, Chris Brown and others to present monthly guest shows. Later he appeared on local radio station BBC Radio Medway in the ‘Soul Mafia’ and doing occasional mixes for Radio London. In 1981 he made his first appearance on Radio 1 hosting a 15-minute feature on Peter Powell’s show, playing the new tracks and covering the latest gossip and news from the dance world.
When Invicta Radio started up in Kent in 1984, Tong joined them to host a regular soul show, where assisted by local Kent journalist Eddie Gordon of the Kent Messenger he built up a big county profile. Tong stayed at Invicta until 1987. He was then hired by Capital Radio in 1988 at the suggestion of DJ Jeff Young to present a weekly dance programme. DJ Jeff Young having initially been offered the slot by Capital went to BBC Radio 1 to broadcast a weekly Friday night show called The Big Beat.
In 1991 Tong returned to national radio taking over the “hot” Friday night slot from the retiring Jeff Young. Tong hosted the Essential Selection, a BBC Radio 1 show that aired on Friday evenings, at varying times from 6-10pm between 1991 and 2006. From 1992 to 1993, a second weekly edition of the show aired on Sunday evenings from 7-8pm. From 29 September 2006 onwards, the show dropped its name in the UK from Essential Selection and was referred to as simply “Pete Tong: The Official Start To The Weekend”, airing from 7-9pm until 2009 when it changed to 9-11pm. The programme showcases the latest dance & electronic music, and informs listeners what club nights are on around the United Kingdom at weekends. It is endorsed by Radio 1 as the official start to the weekend, and attracts one of the highest audiences for a radio show in the UK. There are no plans to change this successful format.
As a DJ, Pete has graced the decks of the best clubs and festivals worldwide. As a producer he has assembled the music for movie soundtracks such as The Beach, Human Traffic and 24 Hour Party People and has produced his own material under various guises.
Pete’s success as a broadcaster, clubland DJ and music industry tastemaker is his ability to create a balance between credibility and commerciality and it not afraid to drop the hits on the decks. “People forget it’s entertainment,” Pete explains. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I couldn’t champion new music, but a mix is the key. And it’s supposed to be fun.”
The dance market has changed a lot since Pete started, but one thing remains the same, people still want to go out and have a good time. “People love music, make no mistake about that, whether and how they buy it right now is one thing, but people still want to party…it’s our job to come up with new parties, new nights, new venues, new themes to keep the scene fresh and exciting.” says Tong.
In the meantime, the ever-active Pete still sees his vocation as he did when he started out, playing other people’s records to get an audience dancing. “We need to constantly remember why people want to come to clubs – which is simply to have a great time and feel the music.” With Tong behind the decks, there’s little worry of failure on that score.