John Peel Started 40 Years Ago

A wave of nostalgia is coming up as the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love approaches. Let's look back at one of the events that truly changed music. Forty years ago right now, John Peel had only been back in the UK for a few months, after spending several years in America. A wonderful synopsis of the story along with audio samples of early John Peel can be found HERE. He was hired by a pirate radio station based in the North Sea called Radio London, and filled in where he could. Until he was given his own show, called the Perfumed Garden (hey, it was the 60's). What he began to do on this show in May of 1967 is what he would continue to do throughout his career: play what he liked and look for what he hadn't heard, bucking convention for what sounded good to him. Even towards the end of his career in this century, his radio show on BBC1 was not like anything else on the whole of the radio. BBC executives let him keep going, because, well, he was John. It was sometimes, to be fair, hard to listen to. He would play anything. But you knew you would never hear these songs anywhere else, and his record collection surely, to paraphrase Indiana Jones, "belongs in a museum." He'd play the craziest futuristic breakbeat thing you've ever heard followed by some local noise-thrash demo he just got in the mail followed by some obscure countryish track from the thirties followed by the Fall followed by African pop. It was forty years ago that he started playing what he wanted to play, changing the world of music more than he would ever realize.

Here's a few tracks from New Order playing Joy Division songs at the John Peel tribute a couple of years ago. Your homework for this history class will be to listen to these songs and further research John Peel (and the history of these tracks if you're a youngin').

New Order plays Joy Division
at the John Peel Day Tribute Concert
Oct 12, 2005 Royal Festival Hall, London

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