26 October 02004

Thanks for more than a lifetime contribution

Outside the tube station I saw people stop and point with open mouths at the Evening Standard news boards that read 'DJ John Peel Dies'.

The last time I heard John Peel's voice on the radio — I don't know if it was the last time he was broadcast before he died — was two nights ago on Andy Kershaw's programme. Andy played a tape of a twenty-year-old John Peel programme where John introduced, uncannily, the song They're Cutting my Coffin at the Sawmill. (If you have the stomach, you can hear this until next Sunday.) Someone had written in pestering Andy to play the song, believing that Andy had himself played it in the '80s, though he had no recollection of it. Another listener realised that it was actually John Peel that had played the song (mentioning Andy with customary generosity when introducing it) and that listener had kept his tape of the programme for the last twenty years. There are a million stories like that. Before the age of the Internet you could walk into a West Berlin bookshop where they'd be playing imported tapes of his programmes.

Though it's shocking to have an apparently limitless, unending stream of great radio come to a sudden stop, no-one can say that John Peel sold anyone short. We can only be enormously grateful for all the lives that he wove his way into.

Posted by David Jennings in section(s) Miscellany on 26 October 02004 | TrackBack

Hi David,

I remember listening to Ultravox's excellent song 'Artificial life' - in the late 70's (I'm talking about John Foxx here, not that waste of space, Midge Blurrgh!). The track blew my mind - I was amazed that such music existed, and have been addicted to listening to mich explorative and edgy music since. I think that this moment of hearing Ultravox, was probably my 1st experience of John Peel programme on Radio 1. I was hooked, it was a revelation. He changed my life in fact. I have been listening to his shows for years, taping many of the them - in fact a I have about 150 tapes, that I listen to every now and then. He was the father that I never had...and needed.

I cried when he died, because of the gap that he has left behind, I know that it will not be filled - in fact, I feel that no one else has the vision or depth to fill that gap - it will probably remain a chasm, for many are either too narrow in their conceptions or lack the generosity for such a task. Which is actually quite frightening.

I have various strange and confusing feelings regarding this sad episode, with all the enforced (sadistic) ugliness that is currently dominating our world. In contrast, John Peel, to me was one of those who knew something which was essential and beyond the corporate void of dead-beat, nothingness that was and is always being shoved down our mediated throats. He gave us grass roots music and its creative essence, he gave it a voice, a chance for others to change things just by being part of something that was not handed down by the state or corporate scheming. A nurturing soul, with a sharp mind keen in exploring contemporary sound and people's quirky, and damn right noisy screams, on its own terms. He was authentic...

He has been a valuable role model for me for years in respect of his open-mindedness towards many hopeful explorative musicians - and I feel that furtherfield has followed in his foot steps, in spirit.

I will miss his presence terribly...


Posted by: marc garrett on 31 October 02004 at 5:42 PM

Andy Kershaw's tribute programme to John Peel had a wonderful playlist.

Posted by: David Jennings on 5 November 02004 at 2:54 PM
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