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.

Anonymous October 26, 2004 at 1:56 pm

I'm afraid that I do not listen to a great deal of real radio and thus never heard of him. My condolences to all the people that loved him.

Anonymous October 26, 2004 at 2:11 pm

This is terrible news. Peel was a god. How many obscure bands and leftfield musicians would have gone unheard by mainstream audiences if it weren't for John Peel?
And to think I was in his studio three months ago at a recording of Orbital's last ever session… Terrible, terrible news.

Anonymous October 26, 2004 at 3:53 pm

Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.
I've listened to Peel for more than 25 years on the BBC World Service. There are DJs and there are DJs, but there was only one John Peel. He is irreplaceable.

Anonymous October 29, 2004 at 1:19 am

Oh my,
I've just read this here.
That's sad. His poor family.
Definitely one of the greats. He will (and should) be missed.

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