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Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest urban area is Sydney. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

Links To Peel

Peel never travelled to Australia, but his links to the culture and music of the country continued through his life as a DJ, with Australia-born BBC Radio One colleague Alan Freeman often named by JP as his own top music radio presenter. Peel's support for Australian music ranged from Aboriginal children songs in the BBC Archives to rock, punk and other underground genres.[1] He was an early fan of Nick Cave.

On his return to the UK in 1967, Peel joined the offshore pirate Radio London, and struck up friendships with the station's Australian engineers, Dave "Hermione" Hawkins and "mad engineer Russ Tollerfield"; as Peel often called him. Tollerfield [2] worked closely with him on the Perfumed Garden, using the then fashionable recording technique of "phasing" to produce alternative versions of familiar tracks [3]. During his time on "Big L", Peel was delighted to learn that a small Australian mammal, the Dibbler (or speckled marsupial mouse) had been rediscovered by biologists. The dibbler, and the significance of its reappearance, became a frequently-mentioned topic on his Perfumed Garden. He also promoted the underground magazine Oz, which had originated in Australia and still had many Australian contributors, on the show. His first UK press interview was published in the September 1967 issue. In late 1968, Peel met his future wife, Sheila, when he co-hosted How It Is with Australian author and "futurist" Richard Neville, widely known as the co-editor of both the Australian and UK versions of Oz.

Australians were less numerous in the London music scene of the 1960s than in the underground press, literature or the fine arts. As well as Richard Neville, there was Clive James, who became famous in Britain as a literary author, journalist, TV show presenter and cultural critic, and also wrote lyrics for the singer Pete Atkin. In The Guardian newspaper in 2000, Peel admitted that in the late 1960s he had slept with Australian feminist Germaine Greer[4]. Greer too was a regular contributor to Oz magazine.

Around the same time, Australian sitar player Vytas Serelis shared support slot with David Bowie on a Tyrannosaurus Rex tour introduced by Peel. The Australian band Python Lee Jackson were discovered by Peel during their residency at the London Arts Lab in 1969 and recorded a single for him, "In A Broken Dream", with guest singer Rod Stewart, before returning to obscurity. First released in 1970, the record didn't come out on Peel's Dandelion label and wasn't a hit until reissued two years later, mainly because of Stewart's presence.[2]

The most successful pop act to emerge from Australia in this era were the Bee Gees, never big Peel favourites, although the DJ did play tracks from their first LP on the Perfumed Garden in 1967 [5]. Eclection, who recorded an album for Elektra in 1968 and did sessions for Top Gear, included two Australians - lead singer Kerrilee Male and singer/guitarist Trevor Lucas. Male left after the first LP but Lucas went on to record albums and Peel sessions with Fotheringay and Fairport Convention - and also to become the husband of Sandy Denny. Peel also praised Australian folksinger Gary Shearston, although Shearston never recorded a session for him.

In the early punk era, Peel included "I'm Stranded" by Australian band the Saints in his self-selected 1977 Festive Fifty. In early September 1979, Peel played three records in a row from Australian bands on three consecutive evenings [3] [4] [5] having been given a cache of records from Down Under. These selections included a track by Boys Next Door, who mutated into the Birthday Party.

JP was a presenter on several editions of Top Of The Pops in the early Eighties when Australian bands Men At Work [6] and Icehouse were featured in the programme [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]. Later in the decade, John encountered Australian actress/pop singer Kylie Minogue when he took his daughter Flossie and a friend to the BBC Radio One studios to meet her in 1989. Both girls were fans of the Australian soap opera 'Neighbours', which made Minogue a household name in the UK. He held the actress in fond regard thereafter for being so nice to the pair.

in the 1990s, Australian band Rubher released an EP featuring a track sampling Peel's voice called Johnny Peel [Is Dead]. Peel initially thought Johnny Peel referred to somebody else, but later found out the song referred to him.

After the DJ's death, John Peel's Record Box of favourite singles was found to contain a 1980 cover version of 'My City Of Sydney' by Aussie indie-punk outfit XL Capris.

In the world of football, Peel's favourite Liverpool team during his lifetime featured the Australian players Craig Johnson and Harry Kewell.


The following artists from, formed, or based in Australia recorded sessions for the John Peel show. Years indicate recording dates; for further details, see linked artist pages. Please add more information if known.

DC - Peel Session 1976

DC - Peel Session 1976

Festive Fifty

The following Australian artists had Festive Fifty entries:

The Birthday Party - Release the Bats

The Birthday Party - Release the Bats


(Tracks played by Peel from various artist (v/a) compilations featuring music from Australia. Please add more information if known.)

(LP - An Oasis In A Desert Of Noise (The 1985 Greasy Pop Compilation Of Adelaide Bands)) Greasy Pop

(2xLP - Antipodean Atrocities) ABC

See Also

External Links


  1. In 1987, Peel played at least a dozen tracks from Antipodean Atrocities, a double compilation of “Dubious ditties, Patriotic Pap and Enthusiastic Excesses that Made Australia Grate”.[1] On 11 August 1987 he offered a “big tip of the hat” to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for releasing the vintage recordings. Other unusual records include the Pig's Big 78 played on 04 May 2004, featuring Imito's impersonations of English and Australian birds.
  2. Russ Tollerfield died in 2017; a Radio London tribute is here ("He was a great engineer and a good bloke but also quite reclusive. He was largely nocturnal....")
  3. In 1999, Peel told DJ History:"There were several people who liked things that I liked. They weren't on-air staff, they were engineers. For some reason they had women's names. There was a large bloke called Hermione who was an engineer."
  4. "I'm sure it's an incident she would rather forget, but it was all free love and that sort of thing. One of the tabloids phoned me up and asked for a blow by blow account, but I'm not doing that. I think we are still friends. We don't exchange Christmas cards or anything, but I am always really pleased when I do see her."
  5. In his book Psychedelia and Other Colours (London, 2015) Rob Chapman includes a Peel quote from the programme, the DJ defending the band against critics who accused them of being Beatles copyists; "If you're going to copy anyone, it might as well be the Beatles".. They also appear in the ABC Of Beauty list of favoured artists he compiled for Disc & Music Echo in 1968 ("I must admit to preferring their earlier efforts which seemed less mannered")
  6. 'Down Under' by Men At Work was #1 in the singles chart for three weeks in January / February 1983.
  7. Formed in Melbourne in 1978 but relocated to London in 1980 to advance their career.
  8. Formed in Melbourne in 1981 but moved to London the following year.
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