I miss John Peel. The music industry misses him and although they don’t yet know it unborn kids and future musicians/bands/artists and music lovers miss him too. We miss the man, the spirit, his passion for new and alternative music, his digressions, his sardonic derision of former Radio 1 colleagues, his love of Liverpool FC and maybe at some point, we’ll miss his legacy, as 6Music struggles to stay on air. Maybe there are more DJ’s like him. I’m sure there are in the world. There’s very few of them on the air though that can inspire impressionable teenagers and music lovers of all ages at ten o’clock in the evening.

I first heard Peel’s show in 1983. I remember it because I had a little red transistor radio. I must have been about 9 years old. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me a music centre and it would be a year before I got a ‘ghetto blaster’ for christmas. So I’d carry this thing around with me, whenever I went exploring the fields on my bike in the summer or when I went to bed. I know it’s become a massive cliché that every young fan of Peel remembers listening to his show with a transistor radio under the bed covers but I really did. I’d listen for about twenty minutes and I’d probably drop off. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the show in those days but it was probably the most purposeful thing on the air at that time. At 9 years old I had no major feelings that I was part of some kind of music rebellion and the records that Peel played had a major impact on my youth. They probably didn’t. In fact I thought at the time that Peel was rather grumpy and brusque and not as much fun as the majority of Radio 1 DJ’s of the time. But then again, I felt that way about Jimmy Saville as well. I never got the quips and the sly asides aimed at some inane record/band/DJ.

In the 90s when Radio 1 went through some changes and all the housewife’s favourites left or got booted out of Radio 1, John Peel was still doing his thing. I swear I even saw him turn up in an Abba documentary on BBC 1, singing their praises in only the downbeat but humourous way Peel could. By this time I had heard of the famous Peel Sessions and knew of his love for Teenage Kicks, the constant demos tapes, his habitual exasperation at his kids not tidying their room and I understood his passion, his quips and was entertained by his stories. Unlike DLT and that lot, Peel’s stories didn’t bore me rigid. In fact I loved being part of his world for however long I was listening. And that was the thing. While I couldn’t claim to be a regular listener of his Radio 1 show, I always knew that among the music he played, you’d come away wanting to discovering more or even thinking ‘what the fuck is that racket?’ Now while this may be true of many radio shows, with Peel, the remarkable thing was many of this stuff was unsigned or barely played anywhere else. If primetime radio wasn’t playing Boards of Canada as they should have been doing, you could bet Peel would, and he did. Much of the music I was getting into and all the cool kids pretended to be into, well, Peel had already been there first, often twenty years before. He was ahead of his time.

With any luck there must be a massive archive of Peel’s shows. Since it’s clear that Radio 1 are struggling in the night-time slot with Colin Murray, why not edit the Peel shows and out a series of 26 thrice weekly Peel programmes on for evermore…or at least untill the shows run out? 1. It would be decent and entertaining and deliver what Radio 1 is clearly failing to do. Didn’t they fall over themselves saying how they would keep his spirit alive? 2. Think of all those impressionable kids who will actually get a decent music education for the first time since 2004.

There’s many things about Peel I’ll never forget. One image still stays with me. He was at Glastonbury doing his piece for radio and he says ‘I expect you can’t see it at home but the sun’s setting and if you could see me I imagine that my hair would look white and I’d look sage and beautiful.’

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