Thursday, 23 June 2011

Men of Music: John Peel

This is a little difficult to write, mostly because John Peel is one of my influences as an avid music listener. He also has had one of the most prolific careers in Radio, having strong opinions which I'm even with. He was outstanding at his day job, he managed to live the dream, promoting fairly unknown music making it a little more known to the public. We have many, many examples of this. John Peel was the ultimate critic in my opinion, although he didn't exactly review or write, his opinions and personal taste has influenced many artist and in some cases, kept musicians playing.

I find myself learning more and more everyday about music, whats out in the open is known to the average man that walks the streets. Only a fair few people in this world have the ability to change and influence others on a global scale, John was one of them. His favourite band, The Fall, are one of the best Post-Punk bands, they combine brilliant instrumentals with crazy, literate lyrics by front man Mark E. Smith (another one of my influences). His favourite song, was Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, a song we know very well, he liked it so much he played it back to back the first time he heard it on radio, at that time, it was a first.

He promoted lesser known acts, such as The Fall. He was fundamental in making Punk modern in 70's Britain, he voiced his opinions, his taste was abnormal. To people like me (abnormal listening taste) he was God. He was on the Radio, he wanted people to listen to his bands, he was in tune with modern culture throughout the years.

I cant speak for him, but I think John saw the adolescent, rebellious attitude and took to it. Much alike today's Rob Da Bank, John Peel was the 60's/70's influential figure to the outsider kids. John managed to be influential, he picked obscure bands and brought them to fame, bands such as Pink Floyd, T.Rex & David Bowie, among others. Picking people like Rod Stewart out of obscure Rock n Roll, bringing them into the light, he did it well.

David Bowie was the biggest from the bunch, he managed to give David Bowie a second audition after he failed his first, for Bowie to then pick up fame and mainstream success, this is repeated time and time again in John Peel's career. Knowing you have ultimate say and control over what's heard by the nation must be huge. He had an incredibly responsible job which he took seriously and still went above his superiors to break the rules of radio.

He's well known in the United Kingdom, he was a legendary DJ, people loved him. He became a Beatles expert early in his career, promoting them in the USA which inevitably led to the British Invasion. He was ahead of the time, he was the Avant-Garde pirate of the 60's.

He started live sessions, he called them 'Peel Sessions' where he had bands come in to the studio and record live versions from the bands discography, which led to the BBC 'Live Lounge' of today. He was a talent spotter, he brought Scottish music to the mainstream, bringing to fame bands such as Teenage Fanclub. He had such a pioneering attitude and laid back style, he once played the full length version of Mike Oldfiend's Tubular Bells, which kick started the fuss over Mike Oldfield, which led to Virgin taking off as a music label. 

He gave bands exposure when nobody else would. Peel saw the potential within artists, even during a modern period such as Pulp. I could mention so many examples of this, even Dubstep. Before Peel's death in 2004, he choose many Dubstep releases for his 'Festive Fifty' feature.

If you're a fan of This Nation's Saving Grace, it's down to this man, Peel gave The Fall a chance, nobody else did. This story is repeated in different styles with different musicians during his career. Expanding on his musical background with comedy, such as Paul Whitehouse, he wrote about Paul and gave him success as a Comedian.

He can never be replaced, he was objective, he has his name fixed in history as one of Rock's biggest pioneers, the gap he left hasn't been fixed, however one day I may decide to fill it. Who knows?.. Rest In Peace, John Peel.

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