John Peel died today in Peru. He was with his wife. He was doing some radio or TV work. He was 65.
John Peel introduced me to all the music that was ever cool and a good deal of the music that was absolutely fucking awful. His late night BBC shows were the staple of my teenage years and beyond and in recent times if I was driving late at night in England I'd nearly always tune into his show partly out of nostalgia and partly just to see what the old nutter was playing today. (I decline to mention his Saturday morning 'Home Truths' family therapy show which had me diving across the bed to change the radio dial).
I remember hanging out with Dave Stelfox listening to the Peel show or spending an evening listening to music reccommended by or inspired by the show or the man. Then I'd drive home, listening to some amazing piece of crap that he'd dragged in from East Germany or something. Still, what can you do?
He was the cool uncle that many people didn't have. He was absent minded and friendly, plenty of friends of mine have bumped into him at obscure gigs and had a pint with him. I saw him once at a music festival in Norwich in the early 90's but didnt speak to him (my celebrityphobia was developing even then).
He was an Ipswich Town fan (which is upsetting but hey, In this moment of his death I shall absolve him). He was also only a year or two older than my father.
If I were 17 right now this would feel like the moment that Buddy Holly died. As I'm significantly older it feels sadder but perhaps less passionate. There can be a sadness when a much loved public figure dies. It's not a bad thing to stop the world for a moment and reflect in someone else's mortality.
Thanks for listening.