Commonly referred to as “the people’s deejay,” Carl Cox is one of the dance-music world’s most popular and respected figures. One of the first deejays to use three turntables simultaneously in live performances, Cox is also revered for his ability to appeal to diverse crowds, especially those into techno and house music, and to build incomparable energy levels in the dancers for whom he’s spinning. In addition to his mixing prowess, Cox possesses eclectic musical tastes and a massive record collection that is reputed to number over 75,000. While he is lauded for his own productions and remixes of other artists’ work, Cox has earned his legendary reputation primarily through marathon-length deejay gigs before huge audiences around the world. Unlike most big-name DJs, Cox prefers to perform at floor level rather than in an elevated booth. He inspires warmth and enthusiasm among crowds, often whipping dancers into frenzies with both his selections and his words on the microphone.
Born in Manchester, England, to Barbadian parents, Cox developed an interest in music at an early age. His father possessed many soul and R&B 45s, and his son was manning the record player at family gatherings and block parties by the time he was eight years old. Cox recalls that his friends would go to McDonald’s to spend their allowances, while he preferred to spend long hours at a local record shop. Cox’s fervent interest in music led him to purchase his first turntables at age 15 and to follow emerging styles in the 1970s and 1980s such as soul, disco, synth pop, hip-hop, and electro. He became a full-time deejay in 1985, and his first bookings were at weddings and other gatherings, where he learned to adapt to various situations and to please a variety of crowds. This open-mindedness and versatility served him well when he progressed to higher-profile events.