Idris Elba presents Pete Tong with Lifetime Achievement Award


Pete Tong has been recognized for his “tireless commitment to the music he loves”.

DJ and broadcaster Pete Tong received the Music Industry Trusts (MITS) award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to music.

Best known for his show on Radio 1, Tong has played a pivotal role in the evolution of dance music, as a DJ, recording artist and taste maker.

As an executive of a record company, he has also signed groups like Run DMC, Frankie Knuckles, Goldie and Salt-n-Pepa.

He received his award from Idris Elba at a lavish ceremony in central London.

Organizers said the broadcaster was recognized for his “tireless commitment to the music he loves.”

The ceremony brought together some of the biggest names in music including Duran Duran, DJ Spoony and Nile Rodgers. There were also special performances by New Order, Becky Hill and Norman Jay MBE.

“I am really delighted and humbled to be here,” Tong said at the ceremony, “because I think it is recognition of the influence and success of dance music and club culture.

“Looking around this room, there are so many people who have taken this trip with me, so this is for all of you.”

Idris Elba and Pete Tong

Idris Elba, who presented his trophy to Tong, was once a DJ alongside the star

Born in Dartford, Kent in 1960, Tong played drums in a school band as a teenager before becoming a mobile DJ, performing at weddings and birthday parties.

In the 1980s, he became a music editor for influential magazine Blues & Soul, earning him jobs at Radio 1 and London Records.

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

When Radio 1 wanted to launch a show on the dance scene, it was the natural choice and its 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.

Pete Tong on Radio 1

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

The 90s also saw him working with New Order, bringing them to London Records after Manchester’s Factory disappeared, and encouraging them to adopt elements of contemporary club music.

“If it hadn’t been for Pete, some New Order songs might never have been released to the world,” frontman Bernard Sumner said. “It’s great to see him recognized by the music industry … and to carry the flag of the dance and electronic music genre, which can often be overlooked by industry bodies.”

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

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

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

Named MBE in the 2014 New Years Honors, he is only the second DJ to receive the MITS award after Alan “Fluff” Freeman – whose Pick Of The Pops show spanned nearly 40 years.

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

“I think it’s an award for dance music and dance culture, and everyone involved in that world”, Tong told Music Week to come of Monday’s ceremony.

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

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