I miss him more than any other person that I never met. I’ve written many, many times about the live-changing impact he had on me, growing up in Berwick Upon Tweed, pre-internet, starved of pretty much all other access to boundary-less music.
So to celebrate, here are a few albums I think you should hear – great music, by great people.
Honour the memory of John Peel by hearing something brand new today:
[edit – adding this an hour after the rest of the post]
Peel and the internet. Here’s the thing. When I was listening to John Peel back in the late 80s/early 90s, it was him, or magazines or TV. And friends. And friends had to have the recording there and then.
We had listening parties. We’d get together before going to the pub and listen to LPs. We’d share what we’d bought. Between the 4 or 5 of us that were actively looking for new music.
There really wasn’t any way to get recommendations outside of that mediated world. Hence the vitality of Peel’s place in the history of music and broadcast.
But now, the role that John Peel played is played by a cast of hundreds, if not thousands in my life. People digging out great music, obscure music, unexpected music. People telling stories about music, sharing music, contextualising music. None of them have Peel’s encyclopedic knowledge, and as far as I can tell, none of the music sharing sites are prone to putting on records at the wrong speed, but the combined effect of passionate experts in large numbers, with access to the sharing tools we now have is a vibrant, awesome ecosystem for music discovery. Where discovery, gratitude, passing-it-on and talking to the artist now happen in the same place.
That’s John’s legacy. As much as any radio person attempts to fill the gap – and long may they keep taking the inspiration to go outside the mainstream – his role is one that all of us play. To be mini-Peels, Peelettes, engines of discovery and passionate advocates for the music we love.
Go, make disciples.by