Best known for his decade on Capital FM, hosting the now cult-rated ITV show Fun House for twelve years, and for his seven hit singles as part of the infamous Stock Aitken Waterman duo ‘Pat & Mick' – we sat down for an exclusive interview with Sony award-winning radio DJ and TV presenter, Pat Sharp.
In Conversation with Pat Sharp
How did you become a radio DJ?
I think I was in the right place at the right time for everything I did. By being on Radio 1 when I was 20 I remain Radio 1’s youngest ever DJ. Certainly to be on the afternoon show covering Steve Wright when I had never done a radio show before in my life. So I was definitely right place, right time. I think that leads you to get a chance.
I went to Radio Luxemburg after that and spent a couple of weeks there, then got my own show on Radio 1. Came back and did that for nearly a year, and then went from there to more local stations. The opening of Radio Mercury in Surrey and Sussex – it was local radio and I got a chance to sort of work on my art by being on every day and I really enjoyed that.
It was probably more beneficial to me than being on Radio 1 once a week at 6am on a Sunday morning, where you just went on and handed over to Tony Blackburn – it was all very exciting and then he hosted Top of the Pops the next week, and it was all a bit too much really for me at my age.
I needed to get experience, so the local radio thing helped me, and that eventually got me from there to Chiltern Radio, which got me to Capital, which is where I got noticed. That’s where I really came in to my own. I think I have just been moving from one to another and I ended up doing shows on Smooth a few years go. I have gone pop-y, and then a bit less pop-y, and then less pop-y.
How did you move from radio to hosting Fun House?
I got an audition for this new kids TV show. They sent me a VHS of the American version with a host called JD Roth. It was called Fun House and it was sort of messy games and go karts and cheerleaders. And just looked really bright and everything I was about on the radio. It kind of summed up the weekend.
I went for a trial as such with them and they sent me along, and John Leslie, in Scotland, in Glasgow. Apparently the reason I got the job was because one, I wasn’t Scottish and they thought having a Scottish guy on a national ITV show would be a bit unfair if Scottish TV were making it. And two, he was so tall that the twins who I ended up working with were just belittled by him, because he is about 6’7”.
Luckily I got that job and it was probably the best job I ever had, along with my Capital Radio job, because it was a great career that to this day people still remember me for. I do Fun House shows, I even work with the twins and do corporates with the girls and we go out together and they shake their pom-poms to this day.
You released a number of pop records with Mick Brown, how did this come about?
Our boss at the time at Capital Radio, Richard Park, said “Do you want to make some pop records? You do the evening show, you’re the guys all the kids listen to when they’re doing their homework, and they stand outside the radio station waiting to meet you and get your autograph and have pictures with you. So we should make some pop records, but we will do it for charity, not for you.” So we said okay, that’s fine.
So at the time Capital Radio had the Help A London Child charity and Richard Park made a call to Pete Waterman, because we were playing a lot of their records at the time. We’d just broken Rick Astley and made him famous, we were the first people to play Never Gonna Give You Up. We were playing all the Stock Aitken Waterman records that were huge hits at the time. We kind of made Kylie and Jason famous as well. So, he said “yeah, come on in, we will make your record, we’ll choose a cover version of an old song and we will blast it out”.
So we went in and in about 20 minutes we had made Let’s All Chant, which made it to number 11 in the charts. But, then again, we could play our own records on the radio and we could tell all the kids listening – hey, go buy our record, it’s for charity mate! And they did, and then the following year we did Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet and it got to number 9, so we were in the top 10.
We were suddenly Capital Radio DJs performing on Top of the Pops, being introduced by Radio 1 DJs, who were sneering at us. So it was quite fun to be pop stars once a year, and we did have a few hits, and we had an album. One of our records was a hit in America, it was a hotshot debut in the Billboard Hot 100 one week, above Phil Collins and Sting. So, there you go! Eat your heart out boys!
Why are 80s themed events so popular?
Luckily for me being involved in so many retro festivals and events, nostalgia is still fantastic. People absolutely love it. There is not a weekend that goes by where I’m not doing some nostalgic gig where people are turning up dressed as me!
Literally last weekend there were guys wearing mullets, there’s Pat Sharp t-shirts, and they love wearing the masks as well – they actually wear masks. They buy these masks from a picture of you, put it on and then turn up being you, and you have a picture done with like 10 yous. Which is really weird. Literally, it’s weird, and I’m sitting there with a load of mes going ”oh, it’s you”.
Nostalgia is great, and people of a certain age now, who are in their 30s 40s 50s, they love even bringing their kids to the festivals. And their kids dress up and wear big shoulder pads and brightly coloured things. And it happens all over the world.
When I do snow bombing in Austria, when I play for ex-pats in Oman or Dubai, and Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, and then obviously Butlins or whatever, they are just literally, let’s rock all the festivals. Everybody wants to dress up, be colourful, and reminisce about the 80s, and 90s, for that matter.
What can a client expect when booking Pat Sharp?
I would say when I am booked to play a DJ set I’m bringing a completely different style because I’m using a lot of microphone technique and a real party atmosphere. There’s nothing in my set that isn’t fun. It does what it says on the tin; I’m the guy from Fun House and I’m here to re-run the fun. It’s retro, and it’s fun, and it’s a good party.
I think I do it in quite a unique way as well because I base my set around the way I used to base my radio shows, so I am very careful as to where I talk when the songs are playing. I will hit all the bridges, and all the gaps, and all the sections as I would have done on the radio, rather than just talking straight over a song.
It’s clear when I speak. People can hear what I’m saying, it is at the right point to enable the crowd to build with the atmosphere of the song. The songs I play, I think, are quite unique as well. Equally, I appreciate most people could come and see my set and then copy it but I stick things in to my set that people just go “wow, I love that version; I love that song!” It’s different versions, different songs that wouldn’t always be guaranteed in a retro DJ set. So it’s based around personality.
What type of events are you typically booked for?
I do so many different types of shows. I would say I mostly do DJ sets, and then I do a DJ set mixed in with a corporate event. So I might do an awards ceremony, or I might do something where I am introducing various different acts who would be from the past. I have to say that they are generally retro events.
If I combine hosting and a corporate event with a DJ set and indeed a band who I am introducing and everything. And stuff on stage where I might be holding something together and linking things together as well. That is generally what I am doing with the corporate event side of things.
I’m quite diverse in what I can do, and indeed in what I like doing. Because I feel very comfortable that I can go on without a script, or without cue cards, and generally just be me. I’ve got enough stories to tell, even after dinner speaking as well, it is fun to look back.
Q&As I quite like as well, where people give me questions. Recently I was on a large ship, the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas, and it was a throwback festival with The Human League, and OMD, and Jason Donovan, and Erasure, and bands like that. I did Q&A sessions with the bands where there would be a big auditorium and I would sit down with the bands. Obviously the fans of the groups will be there to see the groups, not me, but they were up close and personal, as close as we are now, with their acts and the bands who they’ve loved for many years.
What range of music do you play?
When I am doing a DJ set generally I am booked for the DJ set to be retro, often 80s, sometimes 90s, but pretty much retro. I always say to the person, if I chuck in a couple of Beyonce/Rhianna type tunes or whoever is even more current, then they say “okay, just play it by ear, see how it goes”. I find that really does break it up.
If it is a one hundred percent retro event where they want one hundred percent retro then I will be going in playing the stuff from the decade that they want. Because that it what they want. I did a 90s show the other day and I played all 90s. I did an 80s show the week before and played all 80s. If you feel, and you judge the audience in front of you on the night, you don’t go in with just those set of songs that you are going to play in a list.
I never have a list. I go in and I use CDs still. I have a look around and think oh wow, didn’t know I have that CD with me, I will stick that on; it will work really well here. It’s not working in a mixing point of view, it will still flow, but it flows with my voice. There are very few songs in a DJ set that I don’t interact between.
Can you recall any memorable gigs?
I played for Ant and Dec. They asked me to DJ at their joint 40th, so I played at Ant and Dec’s 80th, and that was fun.
I also played at – and this is a weird one – you remember the song The Final Countdown by Europe? I got booked to play for the lead singer’s wife’s 40th; Joey Tempest, his wife. This is the best thing – he gave me a playlist saying these are my wife’s songs; these are the ones I want you to play.
I went, “you are paying me a reasonable amount of money, why don’t you just leave it to me? I will do what I do because that is what I do. He said no, no, no, she wants these!” They were like We Don’t Need Another Hero by Tina Turner. People were just standing there going “we don’t need another hero”. I said “I’m really going to put on Hermes doing Country Roads in a minute and it’s all going to kick off going Hey! Hey! Hey! He goes oh no, no, no, stick to the playlist.”
So if you are going to book me, please don’t give me a playlist. Let me do what I do. I have played at the O2, and I was support for Bros, and I’ve supported Nile Rogers on his summer tour last summer, and I was warm up for Rita Ora at the Jersey Weekender on stage there.
Even way back before I was doing nostalgic retro gigs. Because this is when nostalgic retro didn’t exist for me because it was now. Back in 1989 again for Bros – which is why I was asked to do their show when they returned to the O2 – I played and did my radio show, and played a set from the stage of Wembley Stadium too. So that was cool.
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