Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Farewell, John

by Suw on October 26, 2004

I really can't quite believe it, but John Peel has died, aged only 65, of a heart attack. (Shit! He was 65? I wouldn't have put him a day over 40.) He was in Peru on a working holiday with his wife.

To call John Peel 'influential' is a bit like calling the sun 'hot'. In particular, I always admired Peel for his happiness to champion Welsh music, even when he had no understanding of the language at all. He always tried to learn how to pronounce Welsh band's names and song titles and, in stark contrast to most of the rest of British radio, he never let a thing like language get in the way of playing a good song.
Both John Peel himself and the Peel Sessions were an institution – he was far more than a DJ, he was a wayfinder for so many people, seeking out new music that wasn't getting a play anywhere else. Countless bands have Peel to thank for their career – the support he gave them when no one else was taking any notice provided so many musicians with the break they needed.
I always loved listening to Peel's voice – the most mellifluous tones you've ever heard. Like Sean Connery, Peel just got sexier and sexier as he got older. He always retained his enthusiasm for music, in particular the sort of stuff that your dad would hate, which was I think a huge part of his charm and appeal.
To say that John Peel was beloved by many would be a huge understatement. To say he will be sorely missed doesn't really grasp the truth.

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