The thing about John Peel was that he made you listen to new, unusual and idiosyncratic music and you felt better, culturally, for it afterwards. He liked to challenge your tastes and seduce you to appreciate new work, not because it was new, but because you could trust him to have listened to it with a critical ear beforehand and it had passed muster.
My first memories of listening to the John Peel show was in bed, under the covers, with my little transistor radio tuned to BBC Radio 1 in 1977. His was a late night show and medium wave radio from Britain only reached my home town on the continent after dark. So it was an ideal introduction to new music and it certainly shaped my taste as a rookie punk rocker at the time.
His soundtrack of punk rock and reggae alternating and playing off against each other I thought was marvellous and the nightclub I spent my youth in (Cinderella's Ballroom in Antwerpen) adopted this mix of then contemporary underground music. It was hilarious and rousing. Of course it changed my life and I didn't want to miss one second of it.
Thanks for the excitement, Mr Peel, and if God is a DJ, he must have learned all the tricks from you.
Two years ago, John Peel came to New Zealand, nay, he even stayed on Waiheke Island and he said:
This might be the loveliest place I've ever been.(Cheers, Peter, for the link)