DJ Tony De Vit - Memorial
Tony De Vit – In Celebration Of A Remarkable Life
Dance music DJ/producer and remixer Tony De Vit died at 08.30am on Thursday 2nd July 1998, at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital, of bone-marrow failure and bronchial pneumonia, having been rushed into hospital days earlier. Tony had suffered a relapse after collapsing with exhaustion whilst on holiday in Miami.
At the time doctors diagnosed him as suffering from severe exhaustion and fatigue, following an acute case of food poisoning. But after carrying out extensive tests, doctors later learnt than his illness was, in fact, bronchial pneumonia and his condition worsened due to bone marrow failure.
Tony passed away peacefully with his long time friend and personal assistant Andrew Bird at his bedside. Tony’s spokesman Gerard Franklin said, “We are all just completely devastated, we thought Tony was on the mend after his recent collapse. He seemed to be making good progress, but four days ago he suffered a relapse and was taken into hospital. The doctors realised that his illness was far more serious and conducted further tests which revealed the bronchial pneumonia.
Tony’s manager and long time friend Kay Masterson added, “I have lost a very dear friend and the world has lost one of the most talented DJs and producers. Tony was a wonderful person who made people happy when they were around him. It was always an incredible experience to see Tony at work DJing in a club and the effect he had on people. He was dearly loved by clubbers throughout the world and the dance music industry, and his death is an incredible loss to us all”.
Birmingham born Tony de Vit began DJing twenty years ago at Birmingham’s infamous Nightingale club. He propelled himself from local club DJ to an international DJ, producer/remixer and radio broadcaster, achieving sixteen Top 40 remixes and four Top 10 remixes.
He received a string of accolades, being ranked 5th in DJ magazine’s, Top 100 DJs In The World, Mixmag’s 2nd Best DJ Of The Year 1996, Best New DJ in Muzik magazine, Dance DJ Of The Year at the Molsen BEDA Awards and Best DJ at the International Music Awards. He also earned Music Week’s vote for The Groundbreaking Mix of 1996 with his remix of Louise’s ‘Naked’.
Throughout his career Tony has remixed records for numerous pop stars including Louise, East 17, Michelle Gayle, The Shamen, Taylor Dane and Ant & Dec. He also had two Top 40 success himself with ‘Burnin’ Up’ and ‘To The Limit’ and mixed twelve dance music compilations including ‘Fantazia’s House Collection’ series, ‘Trade Volumes 1 and 3’, ‘Boxed Live In Tokyo’ and ‘Tel Aviv’, ‘Kiss Mix 97’ and Miss Moneypenny’s ‘Glamorous One’. He was also a much respected DJ for London’s Kiss FM.
Tony was a permanent fixture at clubs such as Trade, Gatecrasher, Cream, Ministry Of Sound, Miss Moneypenny’s, Chuff Chuff and played at clubs in America, Canada, France, Italy, Russia, Tokyo and Ibiza.
As the news of Tony de Vit’s sad death spread throughout the industry, we felt that it was only right to honour such a talented artist by printing just some of the many tributes received from his friends and colleagues.
Laurence Malice, Trade
“I was deeply saddened by the death of Tony de Vit today. Tony and I worked together from the earliest days of the London dance when, from the start, his imagination and adventurousness as a DJ was plain. It is a cruel irony that he has been taken from us just as he was obtaining long overdue wider recognition as one of the world’s foremost progressive DJs and as the sound he pioneered becomes such a popular and influential part of mainstream music. Tony played a fundamental role in making Trade such a successful club and my fondest memories of him will always be of those days in the early 1990s as we struggled to make the world listen. More than any other DJ he popularised and made the world sit up, stand up and dance to the Trade sound. Tony was more than innovator – he was a revolutionary DJ. Even once international stardom began, he still returned faithfully to play in his resident’s slot for his loyal Trade fans most Sundays. They will be shocked by the news. It is a further irony than he has died on the eve of the Gay Pride weekend, which always meant a lot to him”.
Steve Thomas, Trade
“I am saddened by the loss of my good friend Tony de Vit who died today. His drive and enthusiasm for the music we enjoyed together for so many years has become my inspiration. I will miss his energy, encouragement and friendship greatly. It is unfair that he has been taken from us so soon”.
“Tony inspired us all with his hard work, breaking the sound we all believe in, and still found time for his friends and fans. He was a kind and understanding man whose friendship, generosity and help I will never forget”.
“My thoughts are now with his family”.
Alan Thompson, Trade
“It is with great sadness that I heard of the sudden death of my colleague and friend, Tony de Vit. From the first day I joined the Trade team, Tony was always very supportive and encouraging. He has been and will continue to be a great inspiration to thousands of DJs throughout the world including myself. His unique style and sound was at the forefront of hard house music which he pioneered globally to millions. He only had one ambition in life and that was to be at the top of his profession, which he reached this previous year. Tony was also a great ambassador for Trade and gay DJs alike, and I have the utmost respect for what he achieved in his career as a DJ. I will miss Tony with great memories of many nights at Trade and send my deepest sympathy to his boyfriend, Andy, and his family.
“This is utterly tragic. Tony was Trade, he grew up along with the sound, and there’s just nothing we can say. Life deals some terrible cards to people who really deserve better, and Tony was one of them. He had a lot of friends here at the Gallery and across the UK, and he was in his prime. He had everything ahead of him. It’s a horrible situation, and makes us all re-evaluate what’s important”.
Tall Paul Newman
“I knew Tony through Trade. I think I started there just before he did, and that period, for me, was when the club was really on top. He worked so hard, even if he was playing in Scotland or Ireland he would always make the effort to get back for his set at Trade. He was very loyal to the people who came along to hear him play, which meant that he was always rushing around trying to keep everyone happy. He achieved what he set out to do, so I certainly don’t think that his was a life wasted, he fulfilled his ambitions. He DJ’d all over the world, produced some great records and remixes, and made a lot of people very happy. The DJ box here at Turnmills will miss him. My deepest thoughts go now to his family and friends, and everyone who knew him”.
Paul David Madan (co-promoter, Sundissential)
“It is beyond doubt that Sundissential would not be here today without the fantastic talents of Tony de Vit. His unique style epitomised the energy and passion of our club and he was considered by everyone an integral part of the Sundissential team. Aside from his undoubted skills on the decks, he was also totally dedicated to his fans and was a loving, caring person with time for everyone.
On behalf of Dan Prince, Danny Kirk and myself, and our 30,000 members we would like to publicly express our sincere condolences and deepest sympathy to the de Vit family and his wonderful friend Andrew. We miss him”.
“Jive Records lament the tragic and untimely death of Tony de Vit and mourn the loss of such an influential figure in the dance music community. He was a great musical influence in the club scene, defining in the minds of the public the Trade sound and then becoming its ambassador all over the country and all over the world”.
Koen Groenveld, The Klubbheads
“It’s a very big shock to us, it’s very bad news. He was a great supporter of our sound. It’s a big loss for the scene in the UK and the shock waves will reach further afield. What can I say, we’re really shocked about this”.
“He was a very big influence on me musically and socially. Six years ago I was directionless and didn’t know what anything was about. I went and heard him play and it was ‘wham, ban, thank you ma’am!’ I remember playing with him in Leicester and he’d been put in the big room. He was a bloody gentleman and was so supportive of my mixes and my remixes. The first remix I ever did for Truelove was Interactive’s Amok and he came up to me at Garage and said he loved it. For me that was the biggest compliment ever, I was just absolutely thrilled. He was so supportive and encouraging of everything I did. I’m really sad. For me it’s like the end of a cycle”.
Mark Dillon, 99 North/99 Degrees
“My strongest memory of Tony is the power he brought through with his radio shows, his mixes and his mixed albums. He gave 100%. He had a unique sound that helped him achieve this, without a doubt. He’s going to be greatly missed and I don’t think anyone will be able to fill his shoes”.
“There was a De Vit flavour to everything he did, starting with Hooked. I didn’t know it had been made by him but, after hearing it, I had to have it and that was that. Tony has many, many clones that would happily step into his shoes but no one can. He was a fairly unique bloke and a bit special. I don’t think he gave a shit about being a cool DJ, or how brilliant he was, he was what a DJ should be. He went out and played for the crowd. He was a truly remarkable and down to earth person”.
“Probably the most influential thing he did was to basically influence the entire tone and direction of the TEC label. He was the inspiration for it with what he was playing. He had the phenomenal ability to work and be in ten places at once. When I first started working with him he was still working five days a week as a computer programmer, DJing Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and working in the studio every other evening. I was always thinking, ‘How the fuck did he do that?’, if I go to a gig or to a party, I’m not out of bed till after twelve the next day. That’s what burned him out in the end, unfortunately. Tony De Vit had a warmth about him and that spread throughout everything he did. He constantly put back into the scene that supported him in a massive way”.
Tony Price, Trinity
“Tony De Vit was an inspiration to us all. His talent influenced a lot of DJ’s including myself. I will never forget the first time I heard his first track, ‘Burning Up’. I loved it so much I started searching for records with that sound. I wanted my whole set based in that style. Tony was an innovator, someone who single handedly made the world dance to his unique sound – which has played a major part in forming the dance music of today. Tony has touched so many people with his unique style and he will never be forgotten for this. He will be sorely missed”.
James @ Fantazia
“We did his first ever album, ‘The House Collection Volume 1’, which was a few years ago now, then we did his remixes album for us. I was very shocked to hear the news because he was a lovely guy, you couldn’t have met a nicer chap. It’s a great shame. If there’s any way to look on the upside, he was a very busy bloke, he saw lots of people, went to lots of clubs and has gone out as a much liked person. He was incredibly hard working. He loved enjoying himself and loved entertaining people. He was just like Carl Cox, such a nice guy. You couldn’t not get on with him, you couldn’t dislike him, he loved music and he worked so hard tirelessly. He never got involved in the politics, he just got on and did his own thing. He was the people’s DJ. He was there for the people and not for anything else. We toured him all around Spain and he was a lot of fun, not moaning once. He was a great character. He was brilliant and unique with his own style of music. I’m just so lost for words. Our deepest sympathies go out to all his family and friends. It’s a very say day for the music industry with the loss of a great and talented person”.
“I enjoyed DJing with him at Sundissential and he was a really nice man. He was really cool. I was very sad to hear about it. I remember playing with him at Sundissential and he’d be grinding away. I’d come into a big dark room and everyone would be going mad and having a great time. It’s really sad”.
Jon The Dentist
“He had so much direction. He picked up on Nu-NRG and turned it into commercial club music. Respect to him for that. He did an awful lot to bring the music prevailing on the gay scene into the global music community. Obviously, he’s a big loss. There was a lot of mutual respect between me and Tony. He really canned loads of things that me and Baby Doc were doing. When you think about it he did a lot to help get our music out there. He had guts and played stuff that no one would dare. The testament to Tony is that he’ll be missed as a person and an individual but he’d almost accomplished his work, which was brilliant. If there’s an afterlife and he’s looking down on us now he can rest assured that he’s left his mark”.
“I think it’s an absolutely immense loss. For someone who had that much enthusiasm for life, so much time for other people, so much so that he didn’t have time for himself, it just seems like such a shame. It’s almost like he didn’t have time to enjoy himself, even though he was enjoying himself within his work. He worked himself into the ground and I understand why he did it. I’ve never seen anybody play records like he played them. I’ve been to clubs where he’s had people with steam pouring out of their fucking ears. I saw him play Scream at The Warehouse in Plymouth and he had 400 people going mental to what he was playing. He just made the place erupt. There aren’t many people who can do that in life and there aren’t many DJs I can rate as highly as him. I feel like he’s been stolen away from us”.
“Tony de Vit was the man who made Trade for me, the man whose music worked for me every time. We met after he remixed ‘I Imagine’ for me, which was itself so special; this king of all DJs remixed my record and played it at Trade for me. I then got to know him, and realised what a nice guy he was. We’d always intended to work together, but never got round to it due to work commitments, and it saddens me that we’ll never have the chance. This is a sad loss, and I feel so upset because it seems so recent that I last saw him at the club. He will be missed”.
Lisa Nash, Club@vision
“We were very saddened to hear of the death of Tony de Vit, our deepest sympathies go to all his family and friends, it is a great loss. I had the pleasure to interview and socialise with Tony and it was this time last year that I chatted to a happy and vibrant man in Ibiza.
Ibiza has come round again and, with Tony’s talent as a DJ and remixer and all his involvement in the dance music scene, we have decided to dedicate the Ibiza Club@vision show to Tony de Vit. He will be greatly missed by fans, colleagues, friends and family”.
Simon Foy, Inside Out and The Ark
“Tony de Vit played for us at both the Arches and the Tunnel and we were immediately struck by what a genuine and down to earth person he was, an opinion echoed, I’m sure, by anyone else who met him. As a DJ he was always a favourite and will be sadly missed in clubland. Our sympathies go out to Andy and Tony’s family”.
“We were shocked to hear of the sudden loss of Tony de Vit, and our deepest sympathies go out to all his family and friends. We had the great fortune to work with Tony on many occasions and found him to be one of the nicest and most friendly DJs that we have had the pleasure to work with. This is a very sad day for the music industry with the loss of a great and very talented person. He will be greatly missed by all at Fantazia and indeed everyone in the dance music scene”.
“On hearing the tragic news of Tony’s death, all the Tidy team are in complete shock. Our producers recently had the pleasure of working with Tony on the forthcoming Trade EP. He was not only the finest DJ in the country but one of the nicest people you could hope to meet in the industry. There is now an irreplaceable gap in the DJing fraternity. All our feelings and deepest sympathy are now with Tony’s family and friends”.
Ricky Magowan, Colours
“A talented man at the forefront of his profession, after nearly twenty years in clubland Tony will be sorely missed but not forgotten”.
“I was lucky enough to meet Tony de Vit once in Glasgow last year, It was a privilege to talk to him about his work and about his love of DJing. Surely one of the best DJs/producers the world has ever heard. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends who must miss him more than we can imagine. We’ll miss you, Tony de Vit”.
Mark Kavanagh, 2FM, Ireland
“The first time I saw Tony de Vit play was when I warmed up for him at POD in Dublin in February 1996. He blew me away so much that he made me realise I knew little or nothing about mixing, so it was back to the drawing board for me. I was so in awe I was embarrassed talking to him afterwards”.
“Ever since then he has been a hero and an inspiration, and, when two years later I was nominated for several awards for DJing in Ireland, I looked back on that gig in fondness as the turning point in my career”.
“Tony actually collected an award on my behalf this year, and that was a thrill surpassed only be the news that he wanted to license the first track I recorded, ‘Kick Some Ass’, to release on his TdV imprint later this year. I’d only wanted to record something he might play at Trade, so when he wanted to put it out on his label it was like the biggest thrill in the world”.
“To say I rated him highly would be an understatement. I have written so many articles for Irish magazines call him “the best DJ in the world” that I’ve lost count. He was the best. The dance scene has lost a true great and a real professional”.
“More importantly, the world has lost a real gentleman. He was always so nice-mannered and a great laugh. I hardly knew him personally, but I imagine the loss felt by those closest to him is immense. My sincere condolences to Kay Masterson, Andrew Buckley and all of Tony’s colleagues at Trade”.
“I can still remember where I was when Elvis and John Lennon died. And I’ll never forget the day that Tony de Vit died. The dance scene already feels like a lessor place without him”.
John ‘00’ Fleming
“I don’t think there is one person in clubland that hasn’t been affected by this devastating news. I’ve always looked up to Tony and fuelled my own career with his sheer love, energy and passion for his job. He was a guy who had time for everyone and put his all into every gig. Tony gave me comforting words the day before my first play at Trade and this got me through that nerve-wracking gig. Those words go through my mind even today at many gigs and they will continue to do so forever… A dear friend to clubland who will be truly missed.
“Tony was one of the sweetest people, talented and modest with it. Even up until the last few times I saw him, he remained vibrant and full of joy. I send my best wishes to his family”.
Jim ‘Shaft’ Ryan
“I’m sure everyone in clubland will be devastated by this tragic news. Tony was at the pinnacle of his career, his music, remixing and DJing skills being recognised throughout the world. He brought about a unique sound which has been cultivated DJing for many years in the British gay scene. This phenomenal talent crossed over and became widely celebrated as he successfully influenced and reshaped the music of the dance floor throughout the world. It also helped to bring together people of different sexual orientation, thus creating a greater understanding between people”.
“I got to know Tony while DJing with him in Hong Kong about four years ago. He was genuinely warm, sweet and a noble human being, whose boyish enthusiasm for his incredible DJing skills and creative ability was a breath of fresh air in the scene that was awash with egocentricity and arrogance”.
“Tony’s spirit will always remain with us through his unique musical sound known simply ‘The Tony de Vit Sound’. This sound contains a symbolic message to us all of unity, love and understanding between all people. A legacy that represents a person who brought so much to so many people and will remain to do so as long as dance music is relevant. May he rest in peace”.
Mickey McMonagle, M8 Clubs Editor
“I first met Tony de Vit five or six years ago, at Kelly’s in Ireland, the club whose innovative, experimental music policy saw the likes of Tony and Tall Paul playing alongside trance hardcore DJs. I’d gone along to the club solely to heard Tony, one of the fastest rising stars of the time, and was utterly blown away by his unique take on the hi-NRG, hard-edged European sound. Here was a truly innovative DJ, an immensely talented man with a genuinely individual sound, whose rapport with, and understanding of, his crowd were second to none. The pleasure he took from playing and making music was immediately apparent, whether you were talking to him after a gig or simply watching him play, and his devotion to his craft was nothing short of inspirational”.
“Over the next few years, it was with great pleasure that I watched Tony ascend rapidly through the ranks of the UK and, later, international DJ circuits. Here was a DJ whose motivation lay not with hefty wage packets or adulation, rather with the simple pleasure of entertaining crowds with the music he loved. His pioneering of the hard sound which is now forever associated with his name was undoubtedly the single most important factor in the style’s rise to the incredible level of popularity it now enjoys across the globe, and especially in the UK. Such has been his impact on the music he loved that it is known simply as the Tony de Vit sound, a fact of which he was extremely proud. It is only recently that he has received the level of recognition he truly deserved, which makes his sudden death all the more tragic. After years of working full-time as a computer programmer, he had been able to devote his life to his true passion, building a studio and launching his own label, TDV. The output from the stable has already been phenomenally impressive, and it is genuinely saddening to realise that the world has been deprived of further works from this supremely talented man. Having worked his way up from the very bottom of the heap, Tony had become one of the most popular, influential, respected DJs in the world, reaching the very peak of his profession, and no-one deserved it more”.
“Recently, with the ongoing increase in the popularity of his music, the large-scale exposure of his big-name remixes and the success of such clubs as Trade and Sundissential, all built on his sound, his message was spreading like wildfire, his profile at an all-time high. I can only imagine just how big Tony de Vit could have become, if only he’d been allowed to fulfil his potential; despite all he achieved, he still had so much more to give us all. Tony was an icon, an idol to an entire generation of clubbers, and his death will have an incredible impact on a great many lives. Clubland has lost one of its best-loved, most influential figures, and he will be sadly missed”.
“When you spend time travelling to clubs all over the country, certain patterns emerge. A DJ who is rated at one club is often described much less favourably elsewhere”.
“Tony de Vit overcame all such prejudices. He was the universally popular DJ, adored by crowds everywhere from Trade and Sundissential to Chuff Chuff and Gatecrasher via a selection of venues all over the world which he played”.
“He had none of the arrogance which success can bring and always seemed to me to be a quiet, sensitive person. On an occasion last year when I was photographing him at home we discussed his hectic DJing schedule. He told me he had to stay busy because you never know how long it would last. Sadly, it has not been anywhere near long enough”.
“Although I didn’t know Tony de Vit well I feel, as anyone who has met him would, that we have lost someone very special”.
Alan Burton, M8
“There are hundreds of DJs out there but no one will be able to fill the gap left by Tony de Vit. As I write this, the dance music world is filled with sadness at the death of Birmingham’s No. 1 son, whose ‘Trade’ mark nu NRG style made him a household name with clubbers all over the world”.
“I first visited Tony’s home in Birmingham last year to interview him for M8. I have never been made to feel so at home and gone into an interview so relaxed. That was the thing about Tony, he was a genuine, pleasant and honest guy who wasn’t preoccupied with putting across an image, he was just himself”.
“Tony used to set himself gruelling schedules which could not have been accomplished without a deep love of the music and the scene he played to. However, he was never too busy to spend time chatting to those who had come to hear him play”.
“Once, I arranged for a disabled friend of mine, Paul, to meet Tony at a gig. Not only did he gladly sign albums but he dragged Paul’s chair into the DJ booth and spent the night talking with him when he was out of the mix. One of the last times I went to Tony’s house he asked me about Paul and gave me some CDs and T-shirts for him. That’s the kind of man he was, people mattered”.
“I will remember him best behind the decks at Sundissential, at that point just before the madness of the party peaks. From now on, if you look around at that moment, you’ll probably find more than one soul staring into the past at happy memories with a sense of loss”.
Johnny Dangerous, Wax Magazine
“Tony de Vit was 100% dedicated to making people happy and he’d bend over backwards to make sure it happened. I met him through a friend of mine called Chris C. I was selling records in The Doncaster Warehouse at the time and Tony used to buy the European tunes off me in the post like clockwork. We put a night on in Rotherham with some friends and we managed to get Tony to come down and play a techno set for us which is what he was aching to do. He played for £100 purely because he believed in what we were doing. I still remember him shaking my hand after and not letting go of it for ages. He was so happy that we’d given him a chance to play more than just house and the crowd loved it too. When I interviewed him in M8 for the first time so much of his personality came through that you could genuinely feel his passion for music. His departure from this world is one that will affect the scene for some time yet”.
Tony De Vit's links to Fantazia
Tony appeared on the Fantazia albums:
House Collection 2 and The Remixers Tony De Vit
as well as the Live in Leeds Mix tape from 1994.
Copies of which are available here
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