By Andy J James
For the last sixteen years the Essential Mix radio show has chartered the development of the dance music genre. This radio show broadcast on BBC Radio 1 in the UK started out in 1993 and is still running to this day. It has had a huge influence on the music scene and is still just as relevant today. Thanks to the internet it is now listened to all over the world, uniting people of different cultures with the common theme of a love for electronic music.
Originally devised by Eddie Gordan in 1993 who saw an opportunity to create a show that would feature a diverse range of music. The show capitalized on the success of the dance music scene in the UK which was continually growing at the time. Inspired by other similar shows on Kiss 100 in the UK and Hot 97 in New York, Eddie wanted to showcase different DJ’s every week with a two hour continuous mix. This was possible as the BBC is funded through tax payers money, hence no need for advertisements interrupting the show. There was no pressure to replicate a club mix as Eddie encouraged the DJ’s to be as free as possible with their music selection. This helped create such legendary mixes as Paul Oakenfold’s award winning Goa mix or David Holmes’ mix from 1997.
Since the first show to present day the Essential Mix has been hosted by Pete Tong. A well respect DJ in his own right, Pete introduces all the mixes as well as being the featured DJ in many shows over the last 16 years. Often the mixes are recorded in the studio, but Radio 1 has also been heavily involved with taking the Essential Mix on the road and recording live from clubs or big events. Initially the live shows started out by touring the top UK clubs, but as house music spread around the globe, the Essential Mix has gone with it. Mixes have now been aired from all over the world – Ibiza, Australia, North America, South Africa, and other European countries. The Essential Mix and Radio 1 have developed a special relationship with Ibiza in particular, broadcasting from the island every year since 1995. This started out as a show taken from a recording of a set at Amnesia, but has grown into Radio 1 practically taking over the island for the Summer. Pete Tong broadcasts his Essential Selection show from Cafe Mambo each week in the summer and Radio 1 is involved in holding huge parties to broadcast extended mixes on the radio.
In 1996 the Radio 1 website started up and this now gives people all over the world the chance to listen to the show, building on the shows fan base. Now in its 16th year the show is still as popular as ever. With many people interested in finding out what music has been played on the show and collecting all the old mixes.
The author has been an avid collector of house music since the early 90’s. He has used his knowledge to create a database of all the Essential Mix Archive which can be found at Essential Mix Archive as well as details of how you can listen to all the old mixes.