At school in the 1980s, Peel represented a kind of lifeline, in that his show was the only place you could hear music that wasn’t already in the mainstream. He provided the soundtrack for an alternative culture (in fact many alternative cultures), that showed there was more to life. He broke every new music genre to enter the UK music scene in the last forty years. When you listened to Peel, you knew you were glimpsing the future. You knew those kids around you, turning there noses up at anything other than sickly sweet pop, would be embracing the new in a few short years.
When I was at school, the BBC looked down on ‘youth culture’. Peel’s was the only Radio 1 show broadcast in stereo on FM as the then BBC Director General, Alasdair Milne, regarded pop culture as trash. Instead, FM stereo was reserved for Radio 2, at that time listened to by over 60s who wouldn’t have understood the benefits.
Fortunately, today’s Radio 1 is a much more diverse place, better reflecting the cultural choices available in the UK. John Peel was the pioneer that made such freedom possible. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve been moved to tears.
Farewell Buzz……Farewell Yasser Arafat