27.10.04 | John Peel (1939-2004)
Did you ever have a really cool uncle? One of those with the kind of record collections that pissed all over yours from a great height? And yet was totally unpretentious and charming and modest at the same time? One who would always have time for you?
John Peel, the Radio 1 disc-jockey, who has died today, aged 65, was invariably such a man.
Every student here in the U.K., from the 60's to the present day, has at least once been sitting by their radio in the evening, saying "What the fuck?", and "That was brilliant!" Or even pogoed around the room, or perhaps merely let their mouths hang open in gobsmacked amazement at the total diamonds he'd ever-so-dryly introduce to us. THen we might equally cover our ears as he'd play something almost unlistenable by the likes of Extreme Noise Terror (Mercifully short songs, those), but, we'd listen all the harder to those it was challenging to love, because, well, if He saw something good in them, we'd be ashamed and mortified to be missing out on what might be something really cool.
He was probably more than responsible for bringing to the worlds attention, the likes of The Pixies, The Smiths, The Cure, Joy Division, Cocteau Twins, Cranes and My Bloody Valentine. He was a massive champion of The Fall and The Wedding Present. But always the newcomers.
Two things that always stressed him out about being a DJ: One, he was always worried about his responsibility to all the bands that sent him demo-tapes (From around the world. And he listened to every demo he could). And two, he was afraid of missing something fabulous amongst the hundreds of hopeful parcels he received every week. A fanatic. You could tell.
He was responsible for two of my most cherished musical moments ever from a radio.
1. Hearing Birthday by The Sugacubes. A song so beautiful it still brings tears to my eyes. (i know, i know. I'm a big wuss.)
2. Driving back from Blackpool with a bunch of friends at the age of 18 or so, and excitedly telling everyone that the that the next song must be Waiting For Mary by Pere Ubu. And it was! It fucking was!!! My friends couldn't believe it. I don't know how i knew that it was gonna be the next song. But i was absolutely certain. I think it was around then that i noticed all the very strange coincidences that occurred in my life with disturbing frequency...
John Peel. We loved ya much much more than Princess Di, we indie kids.
Rest In Peace, Uncle John.
From The Saturnyne.
(With tear-stained face, and aching heart)
Articles and obituaries
From The BBC
From The Guardian
From The NME
Damn! Who're we gonna listen to now?!!?