Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England.
Historically part of Warwickshire, Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 12th largest in the United Kingdom. It is the second largest city in the West Midlands region, after Birmingham.
The current Coventry Cathedral was built after the majority of the 14th century cathedral church of Saint Michael was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in the Coventry Blitz of 14 November 1940. Coventry motor companies have contributed significantly to the British motor industry. The city has two universities, Coventry University in the city centre and the University of Warwick on the southern outskirts.
On 7 December 2017, the city won the title of UK City of Culture 2021, after beating Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Swansea and Sunderland to the title. They will be the third title holder, of the quadrennial award which began in 2013. (Read more at Wikipedia)
Links to Peel
Peel didn't seem to have any family or personal connections with Coventry, and isn't known to have visited the city in his youth. But after returning from the United States and making his name on Radio London and at the BBC, he would visit Coventry to host gigs, especially at Lanchester Polytechnic. Later in the 1970s he encouraged the Two-Tone movement, which remains the city's main claim to fame in the national music scene, booking the Specials (previously known as the Coventry Automatics) and the Selecter for sessions early in their careers.
Coventry boomed from the end of World War 2 until the end of the 1960s, with a growing population which included a large percentage of young people. Nevertheless, it didn't produce a music scene to rival those of Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. In the early 1960s the best-known Coventry artists were middle-of-the-road singers Frank Ifield and Vince Hill, while the Coventry-born DJ Brian Matthew hosted Saturday Club on the BBC Light Programme and ITV's Thank Your Lucky Stars. Another DJ (and later record producer), Pete Waterman, was starting his career with a residency at one of the city's ballrooms.
The best-known Coventry bands of the 1960s were the Sorrows and the Mighty Avengers. Although the latter band only had minor chart success, their single "So Much In Love" became a lasting favourite of JP and after his death was found in John Peel's Record Box of treasured singles.
The singer Beverley Kuttner, better-known as Beverley, was born near Coventry and in the 1960s, while still a teenager, made a reputation on the folk scene, becoming associated with artists Peel admired - Bert Jansch (she is in the sleeve photo of his album It Don't Bother Me), Paul Simon (she delivers the spoken word interlude on Simon and Garfunkel's "Fakin' It", a Peel favourite of the Perfumed Garden era, and Simon invited her to sing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival) and finally John Martyn, whom she married. The couple made two albums and one Peel session as John and Beverley Martyn, before Beverley retired from performing to concentrate on bringing up their children.
Coventry was also the home town of electronic music pioneer and BBC Radiophonic Workshop composer Delia Derbyshire, who contributed to the John Peel Presents Top Gear LP. But the city was dominated by the disco and ballroom scene until the end of the 1960s, when Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University) and Warwick University began to attract increasing numbers of students to the city. They provided an audience for the music Peel was playing on his shows and a number of progressive bands emerged. The one Peel had most connections with was Asgard, whom he wanted to sign to his Dandelion label, but because of financial problems the deal fell through and they signed for the Moody Blues' Threshold label instead. Other Coventry bands to attract the DJ's attention included the Bulgarian-influenced psychedelic folk band Dando Shaft and the soul-influenced Moon, both of whom recorded sessions for his shows in the 1970s.
Lanchester Polytechnic was the venue of a 1972 Chuck Berry concert which produced the hit single "My Ding-A-Ling", while Tangerine Dream played a televised concert in Coventry Cathedral in 1975. The Cathedral also hosted gospel artists the Edwin Hawkins Singers, who performed there during the 1970 Lanchester Arts Festival Warwick University, founded in 1964 on a campus on the southern outskirts of Coventry, gained a reputation as one of the more radical of the "new" universities of the '60s. Two members of its teaching staff had an influence on Peel's career; Germaine Greer, who lectured in English, and the sociologist Simon Frith, a pioneer in the academic study of pop music, who wrote for the magazine Let It Rock and whose singles reviews page encouraged other rock writers, including JP, to take pop singles more seriously,
As a predominantly industrial city, Coventry wasn't a fashionable place in the 1960s, but the city's boom years were succeeded by a period of economic decline and high unemployment in the mid-1970s. This led to a change in the city's music scene and to the rise of Two-Tone; the Specials' hit "Ghost Town" was interpreted by many as describing Coventry, although the band themselves said it was about the mood of violence and despair among young people in many British cities at that time. However it did influence people's image of the city, giving it a reputation as a hard, violent place - much to the displeasure of local politicians.
In the Top Of The Pops 1985 Christmas special, Peel introduced Coventry popsters King, successors to the Reluctant Stereotypes, a local band he had played at the turn of the decade. In 1998, the lineup of the Meltdown festival curated by Peel included Coventry-born electronic music artist Russell Haswell (Gescom, etc).
In the world of football, Coventry City were promoted to the top flight of English football for the first time in 1967, but rarely proved a major threat to Peel's beloved Liverpool team before relegation from the Premier League in 2001.
(Other artists from the Coventry area that were played by Peel include Adorable, Attrition, Black Parrot Seaside & The Exploding Sheep, Cathedral, Defendants, E.M.F., Furious Apples, Human Cabbages, Panjabi MC, Swinging Cats)
- 21 Guns: (1 session, 1981)
- Bolt Thrower: (3 sessions, 1988-90)
- Dando Shaft: (2 sessions, 1971-2)
- Flys (3 sessions, 1978-79)
- Beverley Martyn: (1 session with John Martyn, 1970)
- Moon: (4 sessions, 1975-77)
- Primitives: (3 sessions, 1986-88)
- Shapes: (1 session, 1979)
- Specials: (4 sessions, 1979-83)
- Selecter: (2 sessions, 1979-80)
Various artist albums played by Peel that focused on music from Coventry.
(v/a LP – Sent From Coventry) Kathedral
- 14 June 1980 (BFBS): V-Babies: Donna Blitzen
- 18 June 1980: Mix: With You
- 18 June 1980: Clique: Mothers Never Know
- 18 June 1980: Machine: Character Change
- 18 June 1980: End: Panic In The Night
- 01 July 1980: Wild Boys: Lorraine
- 09 July 1980: V-Babies: Donna Blitzen
- Gigography 1968
- Gigography 1969
- Gigography 1970
- Gigography 1975
- John Peel Presents Top Gear: Coventry-born electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop contributed to the album celebrating Peel's initial Radio One show.
- Record Collection: O: Features two albums by Coventry-born Hazel O'Connor, including the soundtrack to the film 'Breaking Glass'.
- 06 November 1989: Coventry City FC: Jimmy Hill's Sky Blues (2xLP Flair 1989: The Other World Of British Football) Confection
- Farmer's Boys: Recorded live At The General Wolfe, Coventry, 1982-11-10. First broadcast 10 November 1982. Repeated 07 December 1982.