BBC Radio 1 – The John Peel Program – May 19, 1981 – BBC Radio 1 –
If you were anywhere around London, or just about anywhere in the UK on any given night at 10:00 from 1967 until 2004, chances are you’d be turning on your radio, glueing your ears to the speaker and soaking up every second of BBC Radio 1 with the legendary John Peel holding court.
John Peel was a legend, for those of you on this side of the Atlantic and who may not be familiar. He probably did more to promote new bands and artists than anyone at the time and he inspired a whole new generation of disc jockeys to promote new talent, and cover a vast expanse of musical genres, all in one sitting.
His style and his dedication to keeping it eclectic and focusing on what’s good and what’s new did more for the cause of Pop music than almost anyone of his generation did at the time.
John Robert Parker Ravenscroft OBE (30 August 1939 – 25 October 2004), known professionally as John Peel, was an English disc jockey (DJ) and radio presenter. He was the longest-serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs, broadcasting regularly from 1967 until his death in 2004.
Peel was one of the first broadcasters to play psychedelic rock and progressive rock records on British radio. He is widely acknowledged for promoting artists of multiple genres, including pop, dub reggae, punk rock and post-punk, electronic music and dance music, indie rock, extreme metal and British hip hop. Fellow DJ Paul Gambaccini described Peel as “the most important man in music for about a dozen years”.
Peel’s Radio 1 shows were notable for the regular “Peel sessions”, which usually consisted of four songs recorded by an artist in the BBC’s studios, often providing the first major national coverage to bands that later achieved fame. Another feature was the annual Festive Fifty countdown of his listeners’ favorite records of the year.
Peel appeared on television occasionally as one of the presenters of Top of the Pops in the 1980s, and provided voice-over commentary for a number of BBC programs. He became popular with the audience of BBC Radio 4 for his Home Truths program, which ran from the 1990s, featuring unusual stories from listeners’ domestic lives.
To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, and to get a sample of the nightly ritual, here is a complete John Peel program, with sessions by The Moderates and The Lucys exactly as it was heard on May 19, 1981 from BBC Radio 1.