The late, great John Peel became a national institution over the course of his four-decade-long broadcasting career, which could be viewed as surprising if one considers the fact that he spent the vast majority of that career playing music that was considered by Joe Public to be "weird" at best, and an appalling cacophony at worst. Peel made his name and reputation by being the champion of the underdog, giving exposure to artists who didn't have a hope of having their music played on any other national radio show. Post-1976 Peel came to be identified with "Punk Rock" and its offspring, but to a certain generation of music fans he will always be the humble, laconic yet intensely enthusiastic proprietor of "The Perfumed Garden" for that one glorious summer on Radio London, and the presenter of "Top Gear" during the early years of the BBC's "popular" station, Radio 1. While other 'Star" DJs were spouting corny jokes, recipes and flab-fighting tips, Peel was busy purveying an eclectic mix of Blues, Folk, Psychedelia, Poetry and any other genre of music that took his fancy, all linked together with his inimitable low-key presentation style that made every listener feel like it was a private conversation between the two. Peel was voted Top DJ in the 1968 Melody Maker Readers Poll, a result that caused seismic tremors within the corridors of power at Radio 1, where the "Top Brass" had been expecting a victory for Tony Blackburn, or, at the very worst, Jimmy Saville. Despite himself, Peel became a controversial figure, derided by those who disliked his idiosyncrasies and hated the music that he played, but feted by a growing audience who were looking for more than Bubblegum and slick patter. Peel became a figurehead for the Underground scene, penning articles for the International Times and Disc and eventually moving on to Sounds by the early 70s. A Festival wasn't a proper Festival if John Peel wasn't the compere, or at least in attendance to give his blessing to the proceedings. He also set up the independent record label, Dandelion, in an attempt to allow worthy artists (including the likes of the then unknown Medicine Head, Kevin Coyne, Clifford T Ward, Bridget St John and many others) to record free from the hassles and interference of the music biz. John soon grew tired of "Progressive Rock", being critical of its lack of actual progression, and it was inevitable that his constant thirst for new sounds would lead him into areas of music that are of little interest to many fans of psychedelia and 60s pop, but his early years are still remembered with great respect and affection. It's little surprise that John Peel received more votes than the rest of the Honorary Member nominees put together and becomes the very first Marmalade Skies Hall Of Psychedelic Superlatives Honorary Member. As John was very fond of saying, back in the Perfumed Garden, "It's very beautiful indeed".
JOHN PEEL LINKS