John Peel Wiki
Festive Fifty
1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

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Punk takes over. To get a picture of how much Peel's listenership changed over this period, compare the list below with the 1976 Festive Fifty. Recordings of the four shows were finally unearthed and shared via the Peel Mailing List in summer 2008. Many thanks to Bill!


  • "Four or five times as many people voted" this year as in the 1976 Festive Fifty.
  • "And I will say this: If I were to compile a list of me own top 20 rock singles of all time [...] your top six would probably get in there as well."
  • This year's number one "got nearly twice as many votes as "Complete Control" and five times as many votes as "Stairway to Heaven" did two years ago when it became number one"
  • "And I must say, I thought you chose very well indeed. I was knocked out with it all myself"
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees had seven Festive Fifty entries, six of which were from their ten-track debut album The Scream. Thus, they became the only band in the history of the Festive Fifty to have such a large perecentage of their recorded output represented in a chart. Sex Pistols scored five, The Clash four, and Buzzcocks and the Stranglers three each. Stiff Little Fingers, the Jam, Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan also had two entries.
  • Seven tracks remain from the 1976 Festive Fifty and eleven returned from John Peel's 1977 Festive Fifty. Only 20 of the songs were originally released in 1978.

The Festive Fifty Of 1978

  1. John_Peel's_All_Time_Festive_Fifty_-_1978

    John Peel's All Time Festive Fifty - 1978

    Sex Pistols: "Anarchy in the UK" (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, 1977) Virgin Records
  2. Clash: "Complete Control" (7" single, 1977) CBS
  3. Sex Pistols: "God Save the Queen" (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, 1977) Virgin Records
  4. Stiff Little Fingers: "Suspect Device" [single version] (7" single, 1978) Rough Trade / Rigid Digits
  5. Magazine: "Shot by Both Sides" (Real Life, 1978) Virgin Records [version unconfirmed]
  6. Sex Pistols: "Pretty Vacant" (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, 1977) Virgin Records
  7. The Clash: "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" (7" single, 1978) CBS
  8. Buzzcocks: "What Do I Get?" (7" single, 1978) United Artists
  9. Public Image Ltd: "Public Image" (Public Image, 1978) Virgin Records
  10. The Undertones: "Teenage Kicks" (7" single, 1978) Sire
  11. Stiff Little Fingers: "Alternative Ulster" (Inflammable Material, 1979) Rough Trade
  12. Buzzcocks: "Boredom" (Spiral Scratch EP, 1977) New Hormones
  13. The Damned: "New Rose" [single version] (7" single, 1977) Stiff Records
  14. Led Zeppelin: "Stairway to Heaven" (IV, 1971) Atlantic
  15. The Clash: "White Riot" [album version] (The Clash, 1977) CBS
  16. David Bowie: ""Heroes"" [album version] ("Heroes", 1977) RCA
  17. Only Ones: "Another Girl, Another Planet" (The Only Ones, 1978) Columbia
  18. Sex Pistols: "Holidays in the Sun" (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, 1977) Virgin Records
  19. Lynyrd Skynyrd: "Free Bird" [album version] ((pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), 1974) MCA
  20. Rezillos: "I Can't Stand My Baby" [single version] (7" single, 1977) Sensible Records
  21. Van Morrison: "Madame George" (Astral Weeks, 1968) Warner Bros. Records
  22. Siouxsie & The Banshees: "Hong Kong Garden" (7" single, 1978) Polydor
  23. Clash: "Police & Thieves" (The Clash, 1977) CBS
  24. Jam: "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" [single version] (7" single, 1978) Polydor
  25. Elvis Costello: "Watching the Detectives" (7" single, 1977) Stiff Records
  26. Bruce Springsteen: "Born to Run" (Born to Run, 1975) Columbia
  27. Ian Dury: "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" (7" single, 1977) Stiff Records
  28. Dire Straits: "Sultans of Swing" [album version] (Dire Straits, 1978) Vertigo
  29. Pink Floyd: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" [parts I - V] (Wish You Were Here, 1975) Harvest
  30. Buzzcocks: "Moving Away from the Pulsebeat" (Another Music in a Different Kitchen, 1978) United Artists
  31. Derek & The Dominoes: "Layla" [album version] (Layla and other assorted Love Songs, 1970) Polydor
  32. Stranglers: "Hanging Around" (Rattus Norvegicus, 1977) United Artists
  33. Stranglers: "No More Heroes" (No More Heroes, 1977) United Artists
  34. Siouxsie & The Banshees: "Helter Skelter" (The Scream, 1978) Polydor (however the version played is a clean radio promo, with rerecorded, not muted, vocals)
  35. Motors: "Dancing the Night Away" [album version] (1, 1977) Virgin Records
  36. Bob Dylan: "Like a Rolling Stone" (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965) Columbia
  37. Elvis Costello: "Alison" (My Aim Is True, 1977) Stiff Records (played from the 7" single)
  38. Siouxsie & The Banshees: "Overground" [album version] (The Scream, 1978) Polydor
  39. Who: "My Generation" (My Generation, 1965) Brunswick
  40. Stranglers: "London Lady" (Rattus Norvegicus, 1977) United Artists
  41. Siouxsie & The Banshees: "Switch" (The Scream, 1978) Polydor
  42. Siouxsie & The Banshees: "Mirage" (The Scream, 1978) Polydor
  43. Siouxsie & The Banshees: "Jigsaw Feeling" (The Scream, 1978) Polydor
  44. Jam: "In the City" (In the City, 1977) Polydor [version unconfirmed]
  45. Sex Pistols: "E.M.I." (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, 1977) Virgin Records
  46. Bob Dylan: "Desolation Row" (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965) Columbia
  47. Flying Lizards: "Summertime Blues" [7" version] (7" single, 1978) Virgin Records
  48. Neil Young: "Like a Hurricane" [album version] (American Stars 'n Bars, 1977) Reprise
  49. Thin Lizzy: "Emerald" [live] (Live and Dangerous, 1978) Warner Bros. Records
  50. Siouxsie & The Banshees: "Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)" (The Scream, 1978) Polydor


All four of the Peel shows that make up this Festive Fifty are available online; see the individual show pages for details.

Although every one of the songs listed is included on John Peel Torrent Compilation 2 of 17, these are all mp3s of the original tracks, not recordings from the shows, and in some cases they are different versions to those transmitted.