John Peel: Goodbye Genius

Legendary radio DJ John Peel dies.

I don’t usually get particularly emotional about celebrities dying. When Princess Di was killed I didn’t really bat an eyelid – in fact I was ever so slightly worried for the sanity of the country at such massive public grief. For some reason this is really getting to me though. I was sat at work reading some of the tributes on the web, sometimes smiling, sometimes on the verge of tears.

John Peel

Maybe its because Radio 1 has been such a central part of my life thus far. It wakes me up in the morning and its usually on until late in the evening – just when he’d be on. He’d been there since the word go back in 1967. Of course, I wasn’t born for another eleven years, but he was there, on the Radio, right through my childhood.

The amazing thing is that my mum used to listen to him on Radio 1 back when when she was my age. She’s grown up, had kids and listens to Radio 4 now – and he’d be there telling his Home Truths. He quite literally spanned generations.

My younger sister, Florence, is only just getting into music in a big way, so she won’t have her muscial horizons constantly stretched in all directions by Peel’s fantastic late night radio shows. I only hope that the newer generation of DJs – the Zane Lowes, Steve Lamacqs and Huw Stephens of this world – can carry on where he left off. Great new music, no matter what anyone else thinks.

Zane Lowe played Orbital’s “Belfast” a few minutes ago. They’re one of the artists that I have absolutely loved from the very first time I heard them. Without John Peel’s support they might never have got their career off of the ground, let alone enjoyed the success that they did. So when they decided to call it a day, they played their very last session for his show. The same goes for Pulp, Nirvana, SFA, The Sex Pistols, Radiohead, The Smiths, Supergrass, Joy Division, New Order and countless others. He’s shaped the musical landscape for the last forty years people.

Who else is going to play swedish thrash metal, 1920s swing tunes, dark drum’n’bass and random charty-pop music, in the same show, without anybody batting an eyelid? No other DJ could get away with it, let alone get praised for it.

You’ll be missed John. Rest in peace.