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Paul Oakenfold is the DJ, remixer, and producer who did more than anyone else to break house music in Britain during the late '80s. During 1987-1988, Oakenfold hosted a series of crucial club nights that introduced thousands of Brits to house music. Just a few years later, he helped push the new dance crossover into the charts by masterminding hit productions by Happy Mondays (among others) and forming one of the most successful dance labels of the 1990s, Perfecto Records. Even well over a decade after his emergence, Oakenfold remained, quite simply, dance music's most popular DJ.
Born in London in 1963, Oakenfold began mixing at the age of 16, and hooked up with friend Trevor Fung to play soul and rare groove at a basement bar in Covent Garden. He also spent some time in New York during the late '70s, working for Arista Records and soaking up the disco scene through Larry Levan's genre-spanning sets at the Paradise Garage. Back in England by the early '80s, Oakenfold worked as a club promoter and British agent for the Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C. He continued DJing as well, and eventually ended up at the Project, one of the first venues for house music in England, in 1985-1986. With Fung and another friend named Ian St. Paul, Oakenfold was introduced to the exploding club scene on the vacation island of Ibiza (near the coast of Spain) during 1987 and imported the crucial mix of house, soul, Italian disco, and alternative music later dubbed the Balearic style.