For many of us growing up in England in years past, John Peel was an institution. The arrival of ten o'clock, on a week night, would mean the end of homework and entry into an exclusive, bohemian world of underground music. The variety of the playlist was vast. Obscure reggae, punk, folk, complemented by the routine appearance of his favourite artists, whether it be Ivor Cutler or The Fall, and, of course, accompanied by John's trademark drawl.
Born John Ravenscroft, Peel went to the States in the sixties and managed to sell his DJ credentials by Liverpudlian roots that were much sought after in the wake of Beatlemania. He presented shows in Dallas and California before returning to England to work for Radio London and then Radio One. In the early seventies, he promoted artists such as Marc Bolan and The Faces, famously appearing on one of Rod "The Mod" Stewart's appearances on Top Of The Pops, playing mandolin, during the five week reign of Maggie May at the top of the British singles charts.
Peel was an original hippy who kept to his ideals and made sure his mind was forever open. He championed punk and gave the new genre an outlet that was invaluable as it broke through mainstream indifference. Would there have been such phenomenal success for his favourite tune, Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, without John? Or Joy Division? Or The Gang Of Four? Let alone The Clash or The Ramones.
With all that in mind, it's excellent to see that Peel's legacy is preserved online. The Space hosts content which covers various aspects of his life and career, such as Peel Sessions, photos, radio shows and his record collection. It is being added to all the time. I had a highly enjoyable look round and recommend it to anyone with an interest in Peel - and a recollection of those late night shows.