A Legend in His Time

John Peel

On this day five years ago, John Peel was getting ready to present another episode of his radio show. Unfortunately, it would be his last as a heart attack would take his life a few weeks later while on a working holiday in Peru. He had been best known as a disc jockey and champion of the musical underdog on BBC radio. His Peel Sessions gave many bands their first chance of airplay and a load of them went on to have successful careers in the music business. Sadly, I never got to hear his shows as it was not possible for me to listen to BBC radio when he was around. Nevertheless, I’m grateful to him for giving a first chance to many bands that I count among my favourites. For example, he once announced on air that he was feeling a little peckish. A cheeky chappy from Essex heard this and he delivered a Biryani to the studio along with a copy of his demo! He was offered a session straight away and Billy Bragg has become a very respected songwriter with loads of albums under his belt

He gave The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks its first airing and then returned the needle to the start of the groove and played it a second time! The song became his favourite and would be played at his funeral. He was also a big football fan and had been present at Heysel Stadium in 1985 when dozens of football fans lost their lives. He stopped attending matches for a few years after that and was also upset by the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989. In 1991, he appeared as himself on the long-running BBC radio soap The Archers and was awarded the OBE in 1998. To tie in with Football & Music‘s tribute to the great man, I’ve put together a mix of some of my favourite Peel sessions and songs by bands that Peelie championed


A Legend in His Time


Transmission – Joy Division

Joy Division Oven Gloves (Peel session) – Half Man Half Biscuit

You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby – The Smiths

C.R.E.E.P. – The Fall

Girls Don’t Like It – The Undertones

Just Like Honey – The Jesus & Mary Chain

This Is Love – PJ Harvey

Typical Girls – The Slits

Cattle and Cane – The Go-Betweens

Town to Town (Peel session) – Microdisney

Dancing in the Moonlight – Thin Lizzy

(My Girl’s Got) Miraculous Technique (Peel session) – Belle & Sebastian

Lions in My Own Garden (Exit Someone) (Peel session) – Prefab Sprout

Babies – Pulp

Death-Cab For Cutie – The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

Like A Virgin (Madonna cover) (Peel session) – Teenage Fanclub

Ace Of Spades (Motorhead cover) (Peel session) – The Shop Assistants

Felicity (Orange Juice cover) (Peel session) – Wedding Present

Boredom (Buzzcocks cover) (Peel Session) – Magazine

Fear Is a Man’s Best Friend (John Cale cover) (Peel session) – Billy Bragg

Shipbuilding (Elvis Costello cover) (Peel session) – Graham Coxon

Wonderwall (Oasis cover) (Peel session) – Cat Power

I Only Have Eyes For You (Peel session) – Mercury Rev

Legend In My Time (Peel session) – Laura Cantrell

Bread And Butter – Ivor Cutler

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