John Peel

My dad went to school with him and remembers him as a bit of a loner. I didn’t like all of the music he played, and I can’t really say he changed my life as others have claimed he changed theirs, but he sure did have a hell of an influence on my musical taste. Listening to his shows was like panning for gold – you found wonderful nuggets, but you had to work hard. It was fun, but it was hard fun.

About ten years ago, I faxed him asking if he wanted help sorting out his record collection at Peel Acres, and he rang me back to discuss it after a show. In fact he wanted to talk about Japan more than my proposal (I’d mentioned I was translating the language). It came to nothing but we had a nice chat – I remember his voice the most and that odd mix of clear diction and half-mumbled remarks. “Every man has a price, and mine is a trip to Japan”, he said. I think he made it out there a couple of times after that. To die in Peru was a nice touch.

There’s been a lot about how we’ll not see his like again, and how influential he was, and this got me thinking about the Internet again. The clutural gap he has left will, I hope, be filled by the net for the coming generations of teens. They’ll get their kicks from discovering the wilder shores of music on line. John Peel’s passing coincides with the start of a new era, so again I repeat the motto of this blog in the spirit of respect for the man who did it best:

Death to the communications monopolies! May ten thousand autonomous systems bloom!