Has any single man had a more profound and lasting impact on modern music than BBC’s John Peel? It’s unlikely anyone ever will. If you don’t know anything about him, this is a start, with many other links there and on the BBC Radio site. Just to give an indication of his brilliance, here’s a list of his latest and forthcoming guests from ‘Guest Week’ (while he was on holiday in Peru, where he died today of a heart attack):
Tue 19th October – Guest DJs: Underworld
Wed 20th October – Guest DJ: Siouxsie Sioux
Thu 21st October – Guest DJ: Robert Smith
26/10 – Cure Peel Session 1978
27/10 – Happy Mondays Peel Session 1989
28/10 – New Order Peel Session 1982
For a distinctly British impression of his impact from one of the scenes he impacted most over his career, check this, to which I contributed the following meager commentarty:
How many radio DJs are ever heard of outside of their broadcast area, let alone their nation? Even Gilles Peterson has only a tiny following overseas, which never would have happened without the internet, yet Peel Session CDs were spreading innovative music around the world decades before this was possible. An amazing man. How many other neophite 65-year old people can you think of, let alone those who remain in the media spotlight for nearly 40 years?
But my favorite memory of him is second-hand, thinking of the Sonar 2003 set alongside an array of techno legends. Hannah’s told me more than a few times how she and some of our other mates were down the front, all cheering him on, while a bunch of confused Spaniards wondered who the hell he was – this 60 year old geezer playing a nosebleed cornupopia of Peeled onions.
We’ve had a few parties here called ‘Are Friends Eclectic’, which are very much in the spirit of Peel, each of us (DJs and otherwise) playing three zany tracks, each trying to out nostalgise or shock our compadres. This is the spirit he leaves us. He embodied everything a passion and committment to music can.