John Peel has been a superstar radio DJ, having broken literally hundreds of bands in his time on radio over forty years. Starting off in the sixties on pirate radio moored in tug boats off the coast of South East England, he was one of the original DJs on BBC’s Radio One when it commenced broadcasting in 1967.
Even to this day, he has pioneered musical genres often promoting acts and style which his contemporaries said would never catch on: punk, new romantic, indie, 1990s Britpop, dance, drum ‘n’ bass and techno. He often introduced musical styles which were outside the mainstream until he dragged them into the spotlight.
Stars of the music industry, past and present, have offered their tributes to the man who more than any other, actually took a punt and decided who and what he would play, and changed the face of world culture possibly more than any other individual broadcaster. He understood and loved music, and more importantly he got it! In the modern days of music directors and highly regimented and conservative playlists, he stood alone: his patronage of young bands, his passion and understanding for music, the famous “Peel Sessions” where unknown (for the moment) bands got a chance to play live for an hour on radio, the passion and the expression.
A sad, sad day for music. John Peel you will be missed.
Epilogue: John Peel was halfway through writing his autobiography. That we will never read his experiences from his perspective is something that is particularly galling.