David Guetta: Life at the Top

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It’s one thing for a DJ to enjoy one of the highest pay grades within the nightclub and dance-music industries. It’s entirely another when he’s entered the daily cultural discourse. But that’s exactly what’s happened with France’s top musical export, David Guetta.

A recent example: When 2011 U.S. Open golf champ Rory McIlroy was given a moment of post-victory facetime with CNN, which DJ/artist did he namecheck when asked about his musical faves?

Yep, David Guetta (along with Swedish House Mafia, which earned an incredulous smirk from host Piers Morgan). And this was repeated numerous times around the world this past July 4th weekend. Can’t beat that kind of exposure, right?

But that’s the way it’s been going for Guetta, who in recent years has helped spearhead dance-music’s return to the top of the American pop marketplace. Monster global hits like “Sexy Bitch” (featuring Akon), “When Love Takes Over” (featuring Kelly Rowland) and “Love Is Gone (featuring Chris Willis) vaulted Guetta’s star beyond clubland. Then, productions/collaborations like “I Gotta Feeling” (Black Eyed Peas) and “Club Can’t Handle Me” (Flo Rida) made his a recognizable name. Winning a pair of Grammy Awards didn’t hurt his Q Score either.

Unlike Tiësto, Guetta has yet to play the opening ceremony at the Olympics; still, we were reminded of a quote from the famed Dutch jock: “I have perfect freedom. When I walk down the street in New York, nobody bothers me. But when I want to feel like a star, I go into a club.” For Guetta, that may not be the case anymore.

From his perch atop dance music’s mountain, Guetta is savoring every sweet moment of his success. Even when you talk with him today, his appreciation for how far he’s come—and how far the music itself has come—is expressed with an almost childlike wonder. He’s not feigning modesty when he marvels at the joys of collaborating with music’s brightest talents, nor does he exhibit any bravado when gushing with excitement over his new material.

It’s been said before in these pages, but part of the reason Guetta is on top is because of his breadth of experience. He’s been a DJ, promoter, producer, label owner and songwriter in some form or another for just over a quarter-century. Guetta himself has recalled to DJ Times how he would often design the flyers for his club nights, print them, flyer cars on the street, collect money… and then DJ the party. There were long spells where he’d work himself sick. This is the David Guetta the haters don’t know.

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