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TRCH David Suchet

John Peel 1939 - 2004

27 October 04 words: Jared Wilson
Britain mourns the loss of a National musical hero...


Yet Peel's uncompromising encouragement of new talent transformed the face of music all the way from hippy to house.

His Radio 1 show ran three nights a week and in 1998 he became the presenter of Radio 4's Home Truths, which won four Sony Radio awards in 1999. He also presented a programme on the BBC World Service, taking his passion for new music to the wider world.

He played sets as a DJ to clubbing audiences around the country up until months before his death, continually finding new audiences and fans.

John Peel Photographs by a Nottingham Photographer

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Peel on the BBC
Peel in the NME

John PeelBritain's favourite Radio broadcaster John Peel has died at the age of 65, whilst on holiday with family in Peru.

Peel was the champion of British music for nearly 40 years on his late-night Radio 1 show. He led the way in promoting new acts throughout the decades, from David Bowie, through Joy Division to the White Stripes.

He was originally born John Robert Parker Ravenscroft in Heswall, near Liverpool, in 1939. The son of the owner of a cotton mill, his childhood was blighted by his distant parents and he was brought up mostly by a nanny.

He attended Shrewsbury public school, which he hated, an ordeal which was offset by the moment he first heard Heartbreak Hotel.

"Everything changed when I heard Elvis," he later told a BBC journalist. "Where there had been nothing there was suddenly something."

After National Service between 1957 and 1959 he went to America. With Beatlemania in full swing, John Peel and his Liverpudlian connections proved irresistible and he soon became a DJ for WRR radio in Dallas.

Peel said: "They'd got this idea that if you lived in the UK there were probably only a couple of hundred people and they were all bound to know each other."

Returning to England in 1967, he joined the pirate station, Radio London, before transferring to the BBC's new national pop channel, Radio 1. He was to remain there for the rest of his life, the only survivor of Radio 1's first line-up.

John Peel was, at first sight, the antithesis of many of the bands he loved. Balding, bearded, softly spoken. He was more like a favourite uncle than a famous deejay.

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