John Peel

John Peel

Real Name:
John Robert Parker Ravenscroft
Profile:
Born: 30 August 1939 in Heswall, on the Wirral Peninsula, near Liverpool, England, UK.
Died: 25 October 2004 in Cuzco, Peru.

John Peel is best known as a British radio DJ –especially for his work on BBC Radio 1 & 4– and occasionally TV.

After completing his military service in Britain in 1962, John began working for WRR radio in Dallas. At the time, with The Beatles success peaking, John used his Liverpool connections to claim acquaintance with the group. He was in Dallas when John F Kennedy was shot and was at the press conference just before Lee Harvey Oswald was shot.

For the next three years he moved to various radio stations in the US, among them KOMA in Oklahoma City and KMEN outside Los Angeles. He returned to Britain in 1967 and joined Radio London with the celebrated show The Perfumed Garden.
However, John's was most well-known after joining BBC Radio 1 from the beginning in 1967. His first show, Top Gear, established him with the late night slot, but through the years until his death, he moved around the schedules reasonably regularly, often much to his chagrin. During the early part of his career at Radio 1, he also co-founded Dandelion Records.

John was the first DJ to give exposure to punk, reggae and hip-hop, long before they crossed over into the mainstream, and also supported a lot of electronic and other world music forms too. Many eminent musicians, both popular and specialist, recorded a "Peel session" over the years, with many like The Fall returning several times throughout their careers.
John also won the prestigious Sony Award for Broadcaster Of The Year in 1993, and was named Godlike Genius by the NME in 1994.

Outside of BBC Radio 1 he also did quite a few non-music related shows on BBC Radio 4, as well as both music & non-music programming for TV, where he could indulge his interest for other subjects.

He died on the 25 October 2004 at the age of 65, after a heart attack while on holiday in Peru.

Two other things of interest. As he couldn't bare to get rid of any music of value, he was well known for his humungous record collection; much of which he stored in a barn of it's own at his family home. The other more poignant thing he is also very much remembered for was his liking for the 1978/1983 track "Teenage Kicks" by The Undertones, which would always reduce him to tears. Writing once an article for the Guardian national newspaper giving the reason why he liked it so much, he simply said: "there's nothing you could add to it or subtract from it that would improve it" and that his wife Sheila knew the only words he wants written on his tombstone apart from his name are part of the the first line, "Teenage Dreams, So Hard To Beat".
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John Peel Discography

Albums

1 8460 71917 John Peel Remembered(2xCD, Album) BBC Audiobooks 1 8460 71917 UK 2006 Sell This Version

Compilations

TRIKONT US-0350 Various - John Peel And Sheila* Various - John Peel And Sheila* - The Pig's Big 78s - A Beginner's Guide(CD, Comp, Dig) Trikont TRIKONT US-0350 Germany 2006 Sell This Version

DJ Mixes

John Peel FabricLive. 07 (Comp) Fabric (London), Fabric (London) UK 2002 Sell This Version

Reviews Show All 3 Reviews

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md

md

March 1, 2005
edited over 11 years ago
At the time of writing this comment, there is only one release in discogs on John Peel's page. John Peel was not a producer, not a DJ in the modern sense of the term. This goes no way at all to giving an indication of just how important Peel was to music during his long career. Search under releases containing the word "Peel" and you might come across a tiny fraction of the music that he helped introduce to the world...

I'd never cared about a "celebrity" dying until I heard the news of John Peel’s death in October 2004. Peel had a very direct influence on me in the very late 80s and early 90s. One of my all time biggest influences and favourite artists, Godflesh, I heard first in their Peel Session broadcast on his show.

Seeing and hearing him DJ at Sonar 2003 in Barcelona was one of the highlights of the festival. It says a lot about him that at the end of a party that had featured sets by Laurent Garnier, Jeff Mills, Francois Kevorkian, DJ Krush, John Peel and others I've since forgotten, the clamours at the end from the crowd were all for John Peel.

As rarely as it happened, there was nothing quite like clicking on the radio and hearing some bizarre music, wondering "what the hell is this", only to hear his voice come in at the end telling us "well, that was a lovely ditty from Disembowled Zombie" or something like that.

Even though I never met the guy, and in fact hardly caught the show in it's last 10 years, the familiarity of his voice and the influence he had on me musically really made him into someone I thought would always be around.

Reading some of the news reports the morning after his death, even those on the BBC, his home of so many years, just goes to show how completely out of touch people in the media really are about modern music and the myriad of genres he championed...from gabber to Afropop via Mongolian goat bothering anthems. The tributes given by his listeners seem far more appropriate.

Shortly after hearing the news of his death I spoke to my dad on the phone. He described his own experiences of "lying in bed late at night with a little Japanese transistor radio under the pillow, listening to Peel". This was in the 60s...years before I was even born.

Peel was the first person who had me staying up late into the night for the purposes of hearing good music. When his show moved to the late night weekend slot in the early days of the 1990s, I'd stay up until 90 mins before the end, then leave a tape recording the rest of the show.

John Peel even played one of my tracks on his show once in early 2002. I didn't get to hear it unfortunately, but just knowing it happened was and is amazing to me. Hearing his voice introduce it would probably have made me swoon.

Apparently he died in Peru fulfilling a lifetime ambition to visit the place. Cool.
FilboidStudge

FilboidStudge

January 3, 2005
edited over 11 years ago
Through the years I've listened more to John Peel than I have to my own dad. I met him twice, both times at Maida Vale when I won competitions to see Luke Slater and Richie Hawtin do live sets for his show. If it wasn't for Peelie I'd still be listening to the Scorpions. A more humble, witty and deeply human guy I have never met.

Peel's DJ style was unique. He couldn't (or wouldn't) beat-match and he often played records at the wrong speed (sometimes on purpose 'cos he thought it sounded better). "Eclectic" doesn't cover half of it: he would segue a furious, pummelling Berlin techno tune into a 78rpm British music hall record from the 1930s, follow it with a shouty all-girl Japanese punk band and then put on a slab of deep roots reggae he'd bought in Ipswich because he liked the colour of the vinyl.

He was in that tiny minority of radio DJs who actually still bought records and obviously cared deeply about the music, being instrumental in kickstarting the careers of literally hundreds of bands. And yet he never got a big head, and was at his happiest with a glass of red wine, a mushroom biryani and his family around him.

In his final years he found out he was diabetic, yet still he was pushed into ever later slots by the BBC, and shortly before his death he confided to fellow DJ and friend Andy Kersahw he feared this would kill him.

I still can't believe he's gone.
gerry.hectic

gerry.hectic

October 28, 2004
edited over 11 years ago
John Peel, OBE, born 30.08.1939 died of a heart attack on 25th October 2004 in Peru, aged 65

My thoughts go out to John's immediate family and his worldwide family of fans. Like Mary Ann Hobbs recently admitted on air after going to his birthday party, I was also one of countless millions of music fans that listened to his shows on a am-tranny under the bed sheets in the early 70's. Later progressing to mono-cassette recorders and trying to stay awake to tape the last track of that particular night’s session band and all the new good new stuff. The following day, the few like-minded mates would enthuse about the shows at School. The countless enjoyable hours we spent together in 2-hour stints were like listening to your favourite Uncle. The debt the record industry and music fans owe to John is immeasurable. The greatest promoter of music in all its forms. And thanks to the BBC for sticking with him (and John Walters) throughout the years. I only met him once in the early 1980’s in the crowd of New Order’s first London gig and whilst intimidated at being near to your boyhood hero felt compelled to say, “Hello and that I always listened to his show”. Probably having heard such remarks many times, he dryly but politely replied, “So do I”. I hope he could hear the crowd’s applause prior to last night’s crowd at Bournemouth v Cardiff City when the PA announced the news and played ‘Teenage Kicks’ as a tribute. It’s times like these when you realise that you weren’t one of the few who appreciated what he achieved but one of many. Ranging from Top Gear, Top of The Pops, T.V appearances (there was that series on Channel 4 on new bands in Europe), Glastonbury, Home Truths and his World Service programmes, even his writings in Sounds to the Radio Times touched so many, he will never to be forgotten. Thank you John. RIP.

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