John Peel – A Memory

Today marks the sixth anniversary of John Peel’s untimely passing away.

I’d guess the increased Cowell-ification of the charts in that time would have John spinning in his grave – possibly at the wrong speed – but I wanted to c&v part of a previous blog post originally about 6 Music:

“Do you remember the band Bennet?

No, of course not. You’re all young hip cats who’s worlds are made up of iPods and MP3s and have no truck with obscure Britpop bands from the mid-to-late nineties.

If you do remember them, you may recall their minor hit “Mum’s Gone To Iceland”. Not their finest hour.

But “Someone Always Gets There First” WAS their finest hour. I heard it on a Peel Session many years ago and I instantly fell in love. As a doomed romantic, it spoke to me.  In these days before the internet, I managed to track down a copy and order it from a local record store.

That song is a stone cold Dave’s Desert Island Disc. It’s made me smile, shake my booty and – in all honesty – it’s got me through some tough times. Hell, it was the first track on a mixtape that I made for the Better Half for reasons too complicated to go into here.

I’ve never heard it on the radio before or since that John Peel broadcast. If I’d not been sat by my radio for precisely those three minutes, my life would not have been enriched by that power-pop number in the way that it has been.”

And that, in a badly written nutshell, is what made John Peel great for me.

Thanks John.



  1. I had the honour of appearing on two Peel sessions (two different bands*) and it really did feel like an honour to be liked enough by Peel to be broadcast on his show. Personally, I thank Peel for introducing me to Microdisney – he played “Escalator in the Rain”, a slice of gentle Irish whimsy which he followed up, Mr Eclectic that he was, with the noisefest of Einsturtzender Neubarten (I hope I’ve spelled that right).

    We won’t see his kind again, although we do have the vinyl nerd Robin Ince and the deadpan Mark Radcliffe to console us.

    (* The Nightingales and The Capitols, since you ask!)

  2. Listening to John Peel play loud music for an hour on BBC World Service, on my very low quality PHILIBS (yes, PHILIBS) world receiver, in Ihalimba village, Tanzania, every Friday in mid-2004.

    Couldn’t make out a single note, but I lived for those moments between the songs.

    That’s what John Peel was for me.

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