I know I’ll be crucified for this, but sod the tragic small plane incident of the 50s. Today is the day that the music died, when John Peel succumbed to a heart attack while on vacation. Over here in America John Peel may not be a household name, but his influence on the British music scene had a direct impact on what music would be popular world wide – and on what music I would hear, and play.
Always never content on playing it safe, like many of his contemporaries, John Peel would introduce the world to then unknown bands like Pink Floyd and the Smiths; and the genres of Punk, Reggae and Rap before they became mainstream. Bands would send him their tapes in the hope of making it big.
John was apparently a great self-deprecator, referring to himself as the world’s most boring man. He was an institution, and a great icon of music.
At the beginning of the new millennium, two punsters/parodists by the names of Dan Friedman and Nick Romero did a little song – that while poking serious fun at John, also is a loving tribute:
[Kind of in the style of the Undertones “Teenage Kicks”]
D’ya ken John Peel with the grizzly beard
He likes his music loud and weird
There’s no record that he won’t play
And after it you’ll hear him say:
[John] “Oh, sorry about the silence there. Ah, yah. Uh, this one fades in I think. Should do anyway.”
In the 60s he was bold an bad
Now he’s bald and he’s someone’s dad
He’s the best thing on Radio 1
But then he hasn’t got much competition.
“This is the Radio 1 Breakfast Posse Show! I’m Ladbird.”
“Ha ha ha.”
“Ah ha ha ha.”
“Anyone remeber Feminisim?”
They still keep him in the graveyard shift
We want him back and make it swift
Give him a program that lasts all day
So everyone can hear him say:
[John] “Oh, sorry. I was going to do a killer segue there, and it didn’t quite come off. Uh, that was Animal Sounds by the BBC Wildlife Unit. A great name for a band that. I think they’re German.”
Just when you thought he couldn’t do anymore
He starts a series on Radio 4
A million phone-ins from dotty old birds
Let me hear those magical words:
[John] “Oh, sorry. I wasn’t expecting to come in there. That was Answer-phone with the classic This is John Peel: I’m Not Here at the Moment – but, uh, Leave Your Offer of Voiceover Work After the Tone and I’ll Call You Back to Say I’ll Definitely Do It.”
John Peel is a national treasure
He was rewarded for this aural pleasure
He had an audience with royalty
[John] “Hello your majesty, I’ve come for my OBE”
(pause)[Queen] “Ooh, sorry. I wasn’t expecting you to come in there.”
John, the world of broadcasting will miss you!
John Peel, OBE 1939 – 2004
BBC Radio 1’s John Peel Show Page “A balance between things that you know people will like and things that you think people will like.”