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Disc Music Echo

Disc & Music Echo was a weekly music paper, which was aimed largely at a teenage readership and was at the peak of its popularity during the heyday of pop singles in the mid-1960s. In spring 1966 it changed its name from simply Disc to Disc & Music Echo, and under the editorship of Ray Coleman (later to edit Melody Maker from 1970), it offered a lively view of the pop scene of the day.

Disc's influence declined in the 1970s, and in 1975 the paper, after having dropped Music Echo from its name in 1972, merged with Record Mirror.

Links to Peel

Aside from an earlier mention in Melody Maker of "John Peele" [sic[, Disc was the first of the pop weeklies to refer to Peel and his show, in three issues in July 1967 (sse below). noting his two-hour tribute to the Rolling Stones on the Perfumed Garden after Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had received prison sentences for drug posession, his increasing popularity with Radio London's listeners, and the fact that the station could be picked up with good reception in north-east Scotland, where Pink Floyd listened to his show after doing a gig.

Disc was more sympathetic to the pirate radio stations and DJs than some of its weekly rivals, which led to further mentions of Peel and his show in the period before Radio 1 began broadcasting. The paper became home to a Peel column for several years from 1968, when the DJ was becoming a fashionable and influential face on the pop scene. After JP joined the paper, it ran ads in the rival weekly Melody Maker hoping to gain extra readers by highlighting his contribution (for examples, see the Other Mentions sections of Melody Maker: 1968 and Melody Maker: 1969).

Writers with Peel connections who worked for Disc included Jonathan King (who praised Peel and predicted success for him in an August 1967 column, but later became more critical of his influence - see Other Mentions below), the influential and outspoken singles reviewer Penny Valentine, short-lived fashion editor and agony aunt Anne Nightingale, and "house hippy" Hugh Nolan, who later became a DJ, doing Peel-influenced programmes in the early 1970s for Radio Geronimo and Radio Seagull.

In the mid-1960s, Disc included a weekly American column by former Beatles publicist Derek Taylor, then living in Los Angeles and doing publicity for artists such as the Byrds, Paul Revere & the Raiders and Captain Beefheart. In 1967 Taylor embraced the hippy culture and was one of the organisers of the Monterey Pop Festival. His Disc column exuded the "utopian positivity of the Love Generation....spreading the word of Love to the uninitiated British" (Jon Savage, Mojo, June 2017, p.71). Apart from Melody Maker's Nick Jones, who briefly became an adherent of the hippy culture before leaving MM in late 1967, Taylor was the only writer in the British music press to express sentiments similar to those of Peel on the Perfumed Garden show on Radio London. [1]

Yet when International Times printed an article surveying the pop press in September 1969, the writer was unimpressed by Disc ("not recommended unless you are feeling miserable and cynical, in which case it may cheer you up with its sheer incompetence") ; "The really strange thing about the magazine is the never-ending flow of effort to get on terms with (to use a Disc word) the underground. A few months ago John Peel was enlisted in an effort to win over new readers but his 2 pages dwindled and finally disappeared."[2]. However, after this Peel began to contribute more regularly to the paper. By June 1970 he was listed as one of Disc's regular staff, alongside others including Penny Valentine, the only survivor from the paper's mid-1960s heyday (like him, she would later move to Sounds).

Disc gradually lost influence (and circulation) as the pop audience began to diversify. Pete Frame, surveying the pop press in 1972, wrote: "Disc, apart from John Peel's column, would seem to be an almost total waste of time and 6p." (Zigzag 24, 1972)

During the early part of his period with Disc, Peel also contributed a column to International Times; then, occasional articles to The Listener. From 1973, he started writing for Sounds.

Olivetti Chronicles

Several of Peel's columns for Disc & Music Echo were reprinted in The Olivetti Chronicles. For details see Disc & Music Echo: Peel Columns.

Other Peel Columns

For a list of available columns, see Disc & Music Echo: Peel Columns..

Interviews

1968

  • June 8 (Interview by Hugh Nolan): "D'Ye Ken John Peel - he's the minority deejay": "It's difficult to realise what a tiny minority one is in. The majority would rather look at a pretty chocolate box than a Paul Klee - anything that doesn't make them think" (read more)

1973

  • Feb 17 (Andrew Tyler: John Peel: Peel And The Pig — An Everyday Story Of Country Folk): John Peel is a sensitive figure with a sturdy patch on the crotch of his jeans and a tendency towards schoolgirls and sensible underwear ... (read more)

Other Mentions

1967

  • July 8 "Scene" gossip column: "Radio London deejay John Peel's tribute to the Stones - two hours of their music last Thursday without any reference to the court result"[3]
  • July 15 "Pirates: Do They Rule The Waves? Bob Farmer listening in". Surveys all of the pirate stations including Radio London; "Not far behind Blackburn is relative newcomer John Peel and his 'Perfumed Garden' show. Peel, in fact, sounds not unlike (Kenny) Everett. As yet, he doesn't boast about Big L too much"[4]
  • July 29 Bob Farmer reports from a Pink Floyd gig at the Red Shoes Ballroom, Elgin; "They slump around Room 3a, quite hideously decorated, in the Stotfield Hotel, Lossiemouth..., listen to remarkably good reception on Radio London until John Peel creeps out of his Perfumed Garden at 2 a.m. Then they go to bed."[5]
  • Aug 12 "Pirates: R.I.P.". Article salutes the pirate stations, just about to close down: "You rave today about John Peel's 'Perfumed Garden' - but what about Radio 390's Mike Raven, who was way ahead in the sale of soul music?"[6]
  • Aug 19 "Ex-pirate deejay Mike Lennox has landed a new weekly two-hour late-night programme on the BBC and Paul Kaye and John "Perfumed Garden" Peel may also join the BBC...."[7]
  • Aug 26 Scene column; "John Peel's Perfumed Garden likely to be carried on in discotheques"  [8]
  • Jonathan King column: "John Peel. Host of the Perfumed Garden. I meant to comment on the tremendous atmosphere of this show many weeks ago. I foresee a return of it. I predict great success for John Peel. Am I right?" (link as above)
  • Sept 9 "Jacobs, Savile: Radio 1 'brush-off'". News article listing the DJs due to work for the new station, including 15 ex-pirates. JP isn't among them, but Pete Drummond is; he "will be joined on his three-hour Sunday afternoon show by either Mike Ahern (Caroline), John Peel (London) or Tommy Vance (London)."[9]
  • Sept 16 Scene column "Pete Drummond will be joined on his "Top Gear" three-hour Sunday afternoon show by one from Mike Ahern, Tommy Vance, John Peel and Rick Dane. These unfortunate four are each to do one show with Drummond and the best will get a permanent spot with Pete. Says Ahern; 'This is unnerving to say the least. We'll pronably be tensed-up, do a below-form show and that will be our lot!'"[10]
  • Sept 23 (News page - short item: "John Peel at Tiles") "John Peel's highly successful "Perfumed Garden" show opens a weekly spot at Tiles club, London, this Sunday (24). It will run from 8 p.m. to midnight."
  • Sept 30 News item; "Dave Dee, Bee Gees 'live' on Radio One". Preview of station's first days; "Traffic, Move and the Pink Floyd star in 'Top Gear', the three-hour Sunday afternoon show with Pete Drummond and DJ companions led by John Peel....[11]
  • Centre-page feature on Radio One includes picture of "the full crew on the BBC's new-look pop scene". Peel is on the bottom right, next to a cheerful Mike Ahern, on the edge of the picture - he's the only DJ in the group whose head and body aren't fully visible [12]
  • Oct 7 ("It's Onederful!") JP and Top Gear of 01 October 1967 included in a review of the first two days of Radio 1, by David Hughes: ""Top Gear" I enjoyed because I like John Peel and the music he plays...." (read more here)
  • Oct 14 Jonathan King column: "Top Gear" is very fine, and seems to have selcted a number of powerful DJs. I'd like to see John Peel, Mike Ahern and Tommy Vance with their own shows, leaving Pete Drummond in charge"[13]
  • Oct 21 "Pop the Question" - readers' enquiries: "Is there any news of a record by Nico and the Velvet Underground, whom I heard on John Peel's Radio London shows?" The reply; "News is that Verve are rush-releasing an album, 'The Velvet Underground and Nico', as quickly as possible...the same disc John was using on his 'Perfumed Garden' programme.."[14]
  • Oct 28 (Who's Who On Radio 1 series): By now it was four weeks since the station began broadcasting. Obviously Disc had graded the DJs by estimated importance and popularity, and so Tony Blackburn had received a whole page but Peel (and Pete Brady, Dave Cash and David Ryder) was alocated a couple of paragraphs at the bottom of page 11, underneath a far more important article about Cliff Richard's Christian beliefs. The last line of the piece on Peel says that in addition to contributing to the Sunday afternoon Top Gear programme, John also has a monthly news programme on "all the nice things happening in London" for Dutch TV.
  • Nov 18 Radio 1 Newsdesk, by David Hughes. "More changes in the Radio 1 programme.....Already out - Pete Drummond, whose six-week contract for Sunday afternoon's "Top Gear" expired last week. His place as resident compere has been taken by John Peel, and sharing the honours is former Luxembourg, Caroline and London DJ Tommy Vance. The programme has been firmly contracted at least until the end of the year."[15]
  • Dec 2  "Christmas LP alphabet". "V is for 'Velvet Underground and Nico', which John Peel and his many followers can tell you all about"[16]
  • Dec 9  "Scene" column: "DJ John Peel in hospital with appendix trouble"[17]
  • Dec 16 "Jonathan King's Christmas Awards": "A silver bust of Robin Scott's toes to all the DJs who have bowed towards them, but Golden Nail Oscars to the standout goodies - Everett, Peel, Denning, Vance, Henry, Freeman, Skues, Stewart and Moran. Aluminuim Corns to Jimmy Young".[18]
  • Dec 30 ("Radio 1 men are queueing up to meet fans at the BBC stand") "Boys And Girls Exhibition" at Olympia has been running since 1967-12-30. Peel is not due to make his first appearance until 1968-01-03, alongside Tommy Vance and also Tony Brandon.

1968

  • January 6 (Scene gossip column, with photos of Peel and others mentioned): "John Peel's New Year resolution should be to stop being so self-opinionated"[19]
  • "Captain Beefheart - electric magic!" Article by Hugh Nolan on the Magic Band's forthcoming visit - "and this, if you've been lucky enough to have caught a few Beefheart tracks on Top Gear, or if, even better, you'd heard the whole "Safe As Milk" album - is good news!" Also news of other Peel favourites of the time such as Country Joe & The Fish, Love, the Doors, and the lesser-known Thorinshield and H.P. Lovecraft, "both of whom are highly spoken of by those who have heard them, including the ubiquitous John Peel"[20]
  • "Who's Pete: "Bring back the exciting rock'n'roll days!"" Townshend complains about the music scene. "And a lot of the blame lies with a thing like Radio 1, which won't take a cance on anything. John Peel's show, which tries to give an outlet for fresh ideas, isn't given enough time to do anything".[21]
  • January 27 "Pop Post"; reader's letter responding to JP's column in January 20 issue; "Disc jockey John Peel must be the only critic in history to admit that he hadn't seen anything and then go and slam it anyway! In "Hit Talk" (20.1.68) he says he's "very sceptical" of "Bonnie and Clyde" as a work of art...." read more
  • February 10: "Pop Post", another reader's letter responding to JP's column in January 20 issue "John Peel regards Englebert's ballads as 'wallpaper music'. So what?...." [22]
  • February 27: "Pop Post", Letter from reader calling himself "Peel Admirer, Paisley, Scotland"; "Shouldn't DJ John Peel get more recognition for introducing on "Top Gear" such great performers as Love, Doors, Captain Beefheart, Phil Ochs, Canned Heat, Incredible String Band and Tim Buckley?...." (JP hadn't featured in the Top DJ section of the paper's "Valentine Poll", published in the previous issue)[23]
  • News item: "Late Peel"."John Peel, who came to Radio London fame with his Perfumed Garden show, has been given a new late-night show on Radio 1 each Wednesday, starting March 6...." (Also news of new folk and country shows on R1, and of Mike Raven's Sunday night R&B show, extended to one hour)[24]
  • March 9 News item; "Stones To Back Rome Pop". They were "working sponsors" of an international pop festival in Rome, in aid of Vietnamese war orphans, which was widely publicised but never took place. The bill included Donovan, the Byrds, Captain Beefheart and many others listed in the article, which also says "Radio 1's John Peel will be one of the comperes"[25]
  • March 16 Jonathan King column; "My plan to blow up Radio 1". "For the sake of brevity I shall refer to it in code as "The 1968 Gunpowder Plot"....I print the details here to give certain gentlemen - Kenny Everett, Stuart Henry, Chris Denning, Alan Freeman, Johnny Moran, Dave Cash ,David Symonds, John Peel and a few more - their chance to escape the inferno. ..."[26]
  • March 23 (Scene gossip column): John Peel's late night Wednesday Radio 1 show is getting back towards his Perfumed Garden days...last week he played 17th Century French Baroque music, the Stones, San Francisco's Blue Cheer and far-out modern jazzman Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra, plus poetry and stories. Nice! (As the issue would have hit newsstands on Thursday the 21st, the show referred to appears to be the Night Ride of 13 March 1968, only the second one broadcast). Also: "John Peel is right - Tyrannosaurus Rex, heard on his Wednesday night show, are very good indeed."[27]
  • March 30 "Pop the question" - readers' enquiries. "Is deejay John Peel courting or married, where does he come from, what is his age, and where can I write to him personally, apart from the inevitable BBC?" (Reply gives the address 67 Crookham Road, London, S.W.6 - the Peel Acres of that time?)[28]
  • (Grapevine column, "John Peel Show On Radio Luxembourg"): And here's some news from your friendly station of the stars. Radio Luxembourg is planning to pull John Peel into their new-look programmes which start this weekend. With such top Radio 1 names as Tony Blackburn, [[Alan Freeman], David Symonds and Pete Brady already signed up, 208 have invited Peel, the personality everybody seems to want, to host his own show six nights a week, between 12:40--1:10 am, with the tentative title "The Other Side Of The Track". In fact this is to be only a pseudonym for "The Perfumed Garden" show which won him fame with Radio London.[29]
  • "Scene - all the week's pop gossip"; "Mick Jagger, Cliff Richard and Mick Farren, lead singer with Lodon underground group the Social Deviants, are to meet on a John Peel radio show to discuss obscene pop lyrics"[30]
  • April 6: "Pop Post" - main headline; "Listen only to Top Gear...and please don't bring Lulu!" Letter from reader in Paisley; "...If only people would listen to "Top Gear" and John Peel's Wednesday night programme, perhaps they would get a realisation of good music and not be cheated by rubbishy groups" Another reader writes; "...I am sick to death of your pathetic moans on Radio One. Granted some things are awful, but most things are great. Kenny Everett, John Peel, Chris Denning and Stuart Henry...."[31]
  • April 27  Singles reviewed by Penny Valentine: "Tyrannosaurus Rex: Deborah (Regal Zonophone); ...Apparently this is John Peel's favourite record at the moment but don't be feared - that doesn't mean it's incredibly obtuse....." (read more)
  • May 4 "Pop Post"; "I must congratulate the Nice on a brilliant LP, "Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack"....Why can't this group emerge on the scene? The answer is because of childish groups such as Tremeloes and Monkees getting all the airplay. Long live John Peel!"[32]
  • May 11 Scene gossip column; "John Peel plays some very good music, but sounds rather unhappy about it all!"[33]
  • May 25 "Quick Spins" - Singles reviewed by Penny Valentine: "John Peel likes Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera and he is not alone. A good group...." ([34])
  • June 1 Scene gossip column, with three Peel items: "John Peel refuses to use the new all-number telephone numbers, instead makes up exchange names from the first three numbers, coming up with exchanges like CUD and FEP."; "Move manager Tony Secunda has been talking about him for quite a while, and John Peel has just scored an album of his. So watch out for Tiny Tim, quite the most original, freakiest music we've heard for a long time": "John Peel quote; "I wonder how many of the other Radio 1 disc jockeys really believe in the music they play? I really hope they don't!" (Latter item in bold type) [35]
  • "Pop Post" Peel photo at top of page, alongside letter from reader describing how to write "JOHN PEEL IS KING" on bedroom walls ("the most beautiful and gentle thing ever unleashed on society")[36]
  • Jonathan King column praises Richard Harris's LP A Tramp Shining as "One of the most beautiful things in the world, as John Peel would say..." (although JP ignored the album completely)[37]
  • June 8 Scene gossip column: "John Peel not only writing the sleevenotes but titling, too, next album from big-selling Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, now scheduled for August 16 release....Marmalade say they are not allowed to guest on "Top Gear" because they have played on other programmes. Own-up time for John Peel?"[38]
  • "Pop Post" "Surely John Peel's show must be the biggest con on the radio. His ranting and raving over every rubbishy record he plays is sickening...." [39]
  • June 22 Jonathan King column; "What is all this country music and folk and R&B on Radio 1? John Peel is ethnic, but pop ethnic. I would have thought the other specialist forms were more suited to Radio 3. Seriously."
  • ("Stones Office - Setting For A Mad Hatter's Tea Party", by Penny Valentine): "....I arrive at midday and they are waiting for Mick Jagger to arrive with John Peel for an interview. The five huge rooms - furnished like a flat - are in controlled uproar.." (read more)
  • July 13 Scene gossip column: "Why not smile occasionally, John Peel?"[40]
  • "Pop Post": Letter from Radio Luxembourg DJ Don Wardell about "the Bobby Vee versus John Peel disturbance" (referred to in a previous issue of Disc): "I can quite understand and appreciate what John Peel is trying to do.....but I would hate to be buried within a million miles of John Peel's "Perfumed Garden"!"[41]
  • Review of Pentangle LP mentions "a loving sleevenote by John Peel"[42]
  • August 3 Jonathan King column; "Tapes have been arriving....I'm ploughing through some at the moment, and there are some good things emerging. That sounds like a John Peel phrase (he is enthusiastic, thank God, though you might not guess it from his "I am gradually going into a coma" style voice)"[43]
  • Back page feature; "Sound off!" David Hughes's "report", describing and assessing the Radio 1 DJs, including Peel ("Verdict; very open to cynicism but I believe he is genuine, if a little pompous")[44]
  • August 17 "Hits and Myths! A light-hearted dig at the crazy side of the scene" Full-page article with many sentences beginning "It is a myth....", including "...That Tyrannosaurus Rex have hired John Peel to do their publicity"[45]
  • August 24 "Pop Post" Letter from reader in Glasgow; "Was John Peel a funeral director before he became a deejay? On Sunday afternoon when I'm feeling tired and weary after Saturday night, I tunr on the radio and find this man raving in his monotone voice about some groups that sound as if they are singing into empty baked bean cans...." Another letter attacks Jonathan King for his criticism of the Doors; "...The Doors will remain to be one of my favourite groups (even if John Peel is the only deejay to play their records."[46]
  • October 12 Disc's Hollywood writer Judy Sims describes gigs and meetings with musicians during her holiday in London. "...there isn't much of a music scene in London these days. Radio One is a joke apart from John Peel and Kenny Everett and the uptight competition between groups creates a suspicious, unproductive atmosphere..."[47]
  • "Pop Post" One letter begins; "A reader refers to John Peel as a "conceited squirt". I strongly disagree. Peel is what pop needs today..."
  • Also a letter from Clive Selwood, responding to Jonathan King's attacks on the Doors: "...Since Mr. King has now begun to attack Pete Drummond and his excellent "Midday Spin", perhaps we can now look forward to an even greater degree of popularity for Pete. Jonathan - what an opportunity you missed when John Peel began broadcasting!" (As manager of both Peel and Drummond and head of Elektra in the UK, Selwood is defending his clients, but uses his home address in this letter) [48]

1969

  • Unknown date (Readers' poll, front page article, photo of Peel with Liverpool FC scarf and looking serious): "Radio 1 Is Not All That Wonderful ... But Peel IS!" He's just been voted Top DJ (by a narrow margin over Kenny Everett) but the readers' negative view of Radio 1 is called "a stunning blow for the BBC, and especially for Radio 1 boss Douglas Muggeridge."
  • April 12: "Happening" feature: "Liverpool Scene, that multifarious assembly of minstrels from Scouseland, are to promote their own concerts from now on. First will be at London's St. Pancras Town Hall on April 26, 8 p.m., tickets ten shillings. Group's next LP, for June release and again produced by John Peel, is titled "Bread On The Night".[2]
  • July 5 Jonathan King column attacks teenage audiences "who looked ghastly" and "uncritcally accept all the underground music, creative or rubbish...I saw them appreciate the Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, John Peel's latest "wow" group, with stale guitar solos, out-of-tune harmonies, pathetically verbose lyrical imagery..." Is also critical of Peel's influence on audiences but claims the negative effects aren't his fault ("John is a sincere, humorous and good disc-jockey").(read more)
  • "Happening": "BE IN by joining John Peel in a Macrobiotic Buffet luncheon at the ICA centre in London's Mall tomorrow (Friday)at noon. Unfortunately you need a ticket to enter into the feast, to launch John's new Dandelion underground label..... AN ALBUM John Peel's been raving about on "Top Gear" out on July 1. By Los Calchakis, it's called "Flutes Harpes and Guitares Indiennes." (link as above)
  • "Remember" - 5 years ago; "Disc, July 4, 1964. BBC producer Bernie Andrews selected "Top Gear" as the title for new Brian Matthew series from vast number of suggestions sent in by Disc readers. Are you reading, John Peel?" (link as above)

1970

  • 13 June "Top Gear moves into "First Gear" for four weeks in August with eight hours of "revived 45s." Says producer John Walters: "John Peel wiil he on hohday throughont August, so rather than try a watered-down 'Top Gear' I've decided to appeal to people's summer nostalgia, something Radio I has nver really exploited....Shows...will br hosted by 'Scene And Heard' man Johnny Moran..."[49]

1971

  • February 6 Scene column: "John Peel to be featured in TV documentary titled 'One Man's Week' being made by 'Late-Night Line-Up' team. While Peel's footballing part of the week was being filmed he almost wrecked it by smashing the camera and crew with a wildly shot football"[50]
  • February 13 Pop Post:- headline: "Peel's right about the freaks!" "If he can hear me over his mounds of tissues, I would like to congratulate Mr Peel (Mr Hypochondriac 1971) on his criticism of average progressive freaks' narrow taste...." (read more)

1973

  • March (exact unknown unknown): "I'd love to hear a 10cc album." (The quote was subsequently used on the back sleeve of 10cc's self-titled first album.[51])

See Also

References

  1. In April 1968 Taylor returned to England to work for the Beatles again, as the press officer for their newly created Apple Corps. After that, he joined the newly launched UK record company WEA, where Peel's manager Clive Selwood was also employed as manager of Elektra's London branch. One of the acts he encouraged was the Liverpool band Deaf School.
  2. In fact, the LP was produced by the band themselves, together with Sandy Roberton.[1]

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