Daz Sampson started his music career as a mobile DJ but first found fame as the MC, songwriter and ideas man in Bus Stop. Bus Stop’s debut single Kung Fu Fighting featuring Carl Douglas sold 250,000 copies in the UK and was a major international hit. Bus Stop had four hit singles in the UK and released two albums internationally before splitting. The other two members of the band went on to record as dance duo Flip & Fill, while Daz struggled to find an outlet for his pop creations. He was even contemplating quitting when Chris Moyles responded to a last-gasp letter from Daz by not only championing his records on Radio 1 week after week, but inviting him on to the show for regular career updates that became unmissable comedy moments.
During this period, Daz formed the duo Rikki & Daz with John Matthews (AKA Ricardo Autobahn AKA Rikki) of the Cuban Boys. Their single Rhinestone Cowboy (Giddy Up Giddy Up) featured a new vocal from country music legend Glen Campbell, and reached #12 in the UK. Daz informed Chris Moyles listeners that Glen’s ranch was a “thieves’ paradise”. Daz and John later had a top 40 UK hit with their creation The Barndance Boys, best remembered for their papier mache heads. But as the singles market declined, it became harder and harder to secure record deals for their brand of pop. In early 2003, Daz’s cover of Tony Christie’s Amarillo fell on deaf ears, and he couldn’t persuade anyone that the moderate US hit Cha Cha Slide was a massive UK no. 1 waiting to happen (it was). To add insult to injury, he applied to represent the UK in Eurovision and didn’t make it past the first selection round.
So he returned to his other great love – dance music – and immersed himself in the vibrant house scene centred around Liverpool (something he is well placed to do as he has bases in both Stockport and St Helen’s). Daz soon got to know the scene’s key DJs and it was thanks to one of them – Lee Butler – that he heard the record that was to inspire his next hit. It was a bootleg sampling Steve Winwood, and Daz told anyone who would listen that it was a no. 1 record – or he would dance naked through the streets of Stockport. Fortunately he was right – the record was Call On Me, later credited to Eric Prydz. Daz was playing the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City when he heard the next Call On Me on the soundtrack – Out Of Touch by Hall & Oates. Within hours, his production partner Paul Keenan had knocked up a demo sampling Out Of Touch, and the two of them formed Uniting Nations. The single sold well over 100,000 singles in the UK, and was a pan-European hit. There followed further Uniting Nations hit singles and an album that showcases Daz’s ability to write original smash hooks of his own. Their reputation as the UK’s leading commercial dance act was sealed when Smash Hits readers and T4 viewers voted them Best Dance Act at the last ever Pollwinners Party in 2005.
Daz’s success with Uniting Nations has gained him recognition as a songwriter (his songs have been covered by the likes of Angel City and Dana Rayne), a producer, a DJ (he plays gigs all over Europe with Uniting Nations), and a remixer (he has remixed numerous UK and European hit singles).
But through it all, Daz yearned to get back to making pop music, and to get behind the mike and be a frontman once more. So he gave it one last shot, hooking up with the label belonging to the legendary Pete Waterman – one of the few music industry figures who genuinely understands Daz’s brand of punter-appeal pop. Then on to Daz’s greatest ambition – bringing home the Eurovision crown home to Britain. When he heard that Richard Park was the new supremo of the British Eurovision entry, he sent him his masterpiece. That track was Teenage Life, co-written with Daz’s long-term collaborator John Matthews.
Like all Daz’s best songs, Teenage Life appeared in his head fully-formed, complete with children’s choir – “the spirits put it there” is his explanation. The song describes his personal experiences of school (Mr T being a teacher who was dismissive when the young Daz insisted he would become a pop star, but ultimately encouraged him), and will resonate with everyone who went to school. Looking ahead to performing the track for the great British public on Making Your Mind Up, Daz says:
“This might sound funny to some people but performing on Making Your Mind Up for the chance to represent the UK in Eurovision is in the pinnacle of my ten years in the music industry. I never get nervous about anything but I’m nervous about this.”