One of the most important DJ’s in modern music history
Legendary Radio DJ John Peel was born 80 years ago
One of the most important DJ’s in modern music history, John Peel left a strong and enduring legacy from a career that had as much impact and importance as the band’s he promoted during a career that spanned for four decades. Born John Robert Parker Ravenscroft on August 30, 1939 in Cheshire, England, Peel moved to the U.S in 1960 at age 21 to work for a cotton producer, and soon found other jobs that included working as a travelling insurance salesman.
During that period he lived in Dallas, Texas and even got the opportunity to talk with the, then, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, and his running mate Lyndon B. Johnson, who were touring the city during the 1960 election campaign, famously taking photographs of them. He started to work professionally as a Radio DJ while in Texas, and as Beatlemania hit the United States, Peel got a job with the Dallas radio station KLIF as the official Beatles correspondent on the strength of his connection to Liverpool. In 1967 he returned to England and worked with the famous offshore pirate radio station Radio London where he started to develop his talent as a promoter of new bands and sounds. At the time, he promoted heavily the Psychedelic Rock scene from the U.S as well as the new emerging bands and music styles in the U.K. After Radio London closed, Peel went to work at BBC Radio 1, and broadcast regularly from 1967 until 2004, that earned Peel the title of the longest serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJ’s .With an extensive musical knowledge and culture, Peel was always one step ahead of the market and trends, and on his shows, he promoted genres as diversified and different as for example pop, psychedelic rock, dub reggae, indie rock, post-punk, electronic music, punk, hardcore punk, breakcore, grindcore, death metal, British hip hop, jungle and dance music. A famous and important feature of Peel’s BBC Radio 1 shows were the John Peel Sessions, which usually consisted of four pieces of music pre-recorded at the BBC’s studios. During the 37 years Peel remained on BBC Radio 1, an impressive over 4000 sessions were recorded by over 2000 artists, several of them, being some of the most iconic, legendary and popular artists ever. The list is too long to mention but among the artists that played the John Peel Sessions between the late 1960’s and 2000’s are AC/DC, Adamski, Bad Religion, Bauhaus, Black Sabbath, Buzzcocks, Leonard Cohen, Daft Punk, Led Zeppelin, Napalm Death, Nico, Nirvana, Procol Harum, Queen, Roxy Music, The Smiths and David Bowie. John Peel remained active as a DJ and promoting new artists and music genres until his sudden death at age 65 from a heart attack on October 2004 in the Inca city of Cusco in Peru.
Watch John Peel picking ten of his favorite songs in 1995
Listen to the 1972 John Peel Session featuring David Bowie on Spotify
Listen to a compilation of some of the best John Peel Sessions on Spotify
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