Tuesday, October 26, 2004

RIP John

You feel your own sense of mortality when those you have admired so much start dying off. Paul Foot, Brian Clough...and now John Peel. The most innovative and influential man in British popular music, has died in Peru. For large sections of a whole generation of people, Peel will be greatly missed. He helped to shape our whole musical outlook,and beyond, (I'll never forget the tingling feeling the first time I heard The Captain playing Big Eyed Beans from Venus with the guitar solo intro "Mister Zoot Horn Rollo, hit that long lunar note....and let it float"). Peel was always moving on to something new, and we would 'discover' it a year or so later. There are those like The Liverpool Scene, Medicine Head, Kevin Coyne, who were terrific without finding or craving 'fame'. Others like T. Rex, The Bonzo's, Rod Stewart went on to great heights but probably never achieved the quality of their material in the Peel days. He hated the 'star' syndrome and positively delighted in uncovering obscurity despite the fact that many of those he championed going on to fill giant stadiums and become the very sort of showbiz 'personalities' he chided. He used to do a regular stint at Mothers Club in Erdington in my youth and he was such an amusing and approachable person. I could even forgive him that dreadful Radio 4 programme.