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Broadcasting legend John Peel dies

A sad day for music: Discjockey, concert presenter and host of the Peel sessions John Peel has died aged 65. From the classic rock era to the heyday of The White Stripes, Peel's voice has graced hundreds of concert and radio session recordings. Peel was consistently on top of the latest developments in rock music, and remained committed to seeking out the best right until the end.

The Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt said: "John Peel was a broadcasting legend. I am deeply saddened by his death, as are all who work at Radio 1.

"John's influence has towered over the development of popular music for nearly four decades and his contribution to modern music and music culture is immeasurable.

"Hopeful bands all over the world sent their demo tapes to John knowing that he really cared. His commitment and passion for new music only grew stronger over the years.

"In fact, when I last saw him he was engaged in a lively debate with his fellow DJs over the state of new music today. He will be hugely missed."

Update: I've been looking at the tributes that have poured in just about everywhere remotely connected to Britain. I think Pete Ashton has one of the best, explaining why people took to him and going beyond the (true but not all-explaining) "he was like a friendly uncle who knew cool music" line:

Throughout the 90s I tended to be the only person in my immediate group of friends that listened to him. As time has progressed this has changed as when that identification is made one tends to have made a friend for life and this evening nearly every weblog I read has a post like this on it. I don't think he has fans as such or followers. Rather he made a certain frame of mind acceptable and this, I think, is his real legacy.

In fact I'll go out on a limb and say it's not really about the music. The music is a conduit for something else, something quite intangible which I think comes down to that fucked up sense of juxtaposition he imposed on us. He made having an open mind cool, which is saying something when you think about it. Once you'd accepted that you could listen to every form of every form of music and appreciate it on its own merits then you could apply this to everything else in life. Any form of creative endeavour is worthwhile. The fact that someone, anyone, is doing something different and interesting becomes vital.

On the whole fans (for want of a better word) of him tend to be sensitive folk who just want things to be nice, who feel beaten down by the relentless enforcement of mediocrity. He not only provided a place on the radio for us to retreat to, his spirit encouraged others to do the same. Every small club, fanzine, website, setup of any description that implicitly encourages people to just do stuff owes him a debt, and they know it. The generation, generations really, that grew up with him learned something important and it stuck with them. We're the ones who smile when we see enthusiasm, who know that there is so much more to life...

My own personal memory of Peel, by the way, started with his radio show on Dutch VPRO, 20 years ago. I didn't always get the music, but I loved the sound of Peely's voice and his outspokenness about his likes and dislikes (he did have dislikes, Bruce Springsteen being one of them), the strange items such as reviews of mix tapes sent by him to critics in Senegal or what have you, and the fact that he hardly ever played anything twice on that show. What a guy.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 26, 2004 3:08 PM.

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