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"Over the past few years, one deejay has emerged head and shoulders above the rest in influence, popularity and integrity. John Peel's year as perhaps the most resoected deejay in the pop music business started when he was voted Top Disc Jockey in the Melody Maker Pop Poll"  (Melody Maker, issue of June 21, 1969)

This page lists articles on, and references to, John Peel in Melody Maker during 1969.

Peel had been mentioned frequently in MM during 1968, and this continued in 1969. He was still the "uncrowned king of the underground", as an ad in MM for his column in Disc & Music Echo (see below) put it, and MM gave itself some credit for his fame, as the quote above shows. The music he played was becoming more popular, especially in the USA where many bands who did Peel sessions were spending more of their time, yet this wasn't reflected in Britain. Peel was still the only DJ on Radio 1 playing "underground" or "progressive" music, as it was called, with the sole exception of Pete Drummond who began a weekly hour-long show at the start of the year.

Because of this, there continued to be many references to Peel in Melody Maker. The paper covered the music Peel played in much greater depth than the other British pop weeklies. The DJ himself was also in the news when the BBC broke up his successful partnership with Top Gear producer Bernie Andrews, changed the times of his shows and, with the ending of his Wednesday evening programmes, reduced his broadcasting hours. MM writers criticised this and the paper printed readers' letters in support of him. MM also showed support for Peel when he got into trouble after admiiting on-air that he had had VD. In his singles review column in the issue of 7 June, Chris Welch made fun of the style of popular press reports on the DJ's confession:

Over to reporter Dick Turnip: "Controversial reviewer and Liverpool-born darling of the 'way-out' pop world Chris Filth shocked MM readers last night by admitting that he contracted Mac Tavish's Wart earlier this year. He said "I am 16 and did not know what was happening because the school I went to was one of those places where even to mention this disease would probably mean a beating. I should be so lucky"......

In addition, Peel was mentioned in interviews with musicians, who sometimes expressed gratitude that he (and no-one else in Britain) was playing their records on the radio, in MM's gossip column "The Raver" and in Blind Date, where guests would describe some of the tracks played to them as "John Peel show material".

Online articles on Peel 

  • April 5; "Top Gear producer in BBC shake-up". Report on the decision to take producer Bernie Andrews off Top Gear, replace him with John Walters ("former trumpeter of the Alan Price Set") and change the show's transmission time from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.. JP comments: "It seems a rotten thing to take Bernie off Top Gear...After all, it was his programme. He deserves credit for making it such a success..." Also mentions that JP has done a pilot show for a possible series on Granada TV, which never materialised (read more))
  • April 19: JP guest in Blind Date.
  • May 17:" "Look, dear - the next time that nice John Peel is on the radio you make sure and have a listen". Bob Dawbarn on the Underground". Tries to humourously explain it:to "auntie", with references to JP and his programmes; "He practically invented the underground in Britain - he's even been known to play a bit of classical and you can't get more underground than that, can you?....."[1]
  • August 2: "Dandeilion starts to flower". Peel interviewed by Tony Wilson about his new record label: ""I first got the idea about a year and a half ago when I was writing for International Times", explained John Peel last week when Melody Maker visited stately Peel Towers a stone's throw from Regent's Park....."[2]

Other Mentions

  • January 4: Interview with Grateful Dead managers Danny Rifkin and Rock Scully during a visit to London. They discuss FM radio in the USA: "...while you have John Peel with two hours a week, we have two stations in San Francisco that operate 24 hours a day, all week...."[3]
  • From "The Raver": "John Peel raving about Van Der Graf Generator.[sic]..." (link as above)
  • The New Blind Date, with Ed Stewart: Cream: "White Room" (Polydor) "...The Cream? I only see John Peel these days when we play football together". (link as above)
  • Letters page: "I am sick and tired of these infantile teenyboppers who knock John Peel. He is one of the most wondrous and magical people ever...One day the gates of the Perfumed Garden will open and exhale a breath of peace and beauty for the world" (link as above)
  • January 11: From "The Raver": "John Peel seems to have given the Speakeasy his Seal Of Approval..." [4]
  • "Trend '69 - Alan Walsh looks at the growing scene in universities and colleges". Photo of Peel with caption; "London's Brunel University carry out a simple booking policy. "We book anyone John Peel likes" (link as above)
  • Dean Ford of Marmalade in Blind Date: Eric Burdon and the Animals: "Ring Of Fire" (MGM); "...I don't think it's got a chance. The bass part is nice, let's listen to it. Yes, that's set for the John Peel programme.....No, I don't like this". (link as above)
  • "1969 should be a good year for...." - a number of artists, including Liverpool Scene; mentions that their LP was produced by Peel. Success is also predicted for Yes, Led Zeppelin, Colosseum, John McLaughlin and Al Stewart.
  • January 18 : Labour MP Gwilym Roberts wants to ban continuous pop music on the BBC and complains about its late programmes. The MM responds; "....there is in fact very little pop after midnight. Five days a week, the midnight to 2 a.m. slot consists of Night Ride, a miscellany of middle-of-the-road music, outside news broadcasts, interviews and chats, the occasional pop record and a guess-the-personality telephone quiz. On the two remaining days, John Peel's Night Ride is basically the more esoteric pop, while Humphrey Lyttelton introduces an hour of jazz, followed by an hour of middle-of-the-road sounds. So check your facts Mr. Roberts...."[5]
  • Chris Welch reviews Tyrannosaurus Rex's Queen Elizabeth Hall concert: "Tyrannosaurus Rex, with John Peel at the wand, conducted us on a tour of a land of rattles, plinks, plonks and poetry,.." Says the evening's best music came from Vytas Serelis, also mentions guest appearance by Melanie (link as above)
  • From "The Raver": "John Peel becoming a Speakeasy regular?" (link as above)
  • Aynsley Dunbar in Pop Think-In: "John Peel: He's supposed to be a blues follower. He is one of the few making any comment on the pop scene within the whole power of the BBC". (link as above)
  • Paul Curtis of the Gun in Blind Date: Heavy Jelly: "I Keep Singing That Same Old Song" (Island): "Spooky Tooth? No....I don't really like the song, it means nothing, but a good record for John Peel..." (link as above)
  • January 25: Review of "underground" concert staged at Manchester's Houldsworth Hall: "...the audience was reassured by John Peel that things were under control. "To any cynics here," he monotoned, "it might appear that we don't know what we're doing, but that would be a totally erroneuos impression". Then he contradicted himself when, apologising for the concert starting 15 minutes late, he added, "Sorry about the lack of organisation"[6]
  • Tony Hatch in Blind Date: Tyrannosaurus Rex; "Pewter Suitor" (Regal Zonophone): "...I should imagine that if you were in a stoned state at a party, you'd think this record was fantastic. I think Tyrannosaurus Rex are the only thing that keeps John Peel awake on his programmes" (link as above)
  • February 1: Interview with Jeff Beck, by Chris Welch: "Jeff says his album, "Truth", has sold a quarter of a million in the States. "But it's unplayed on the BBC except by John Peel. I think he's responsible for all the airplay our group has ever had....""[7]
  • February 15: Interview with new Radio One Controller Douglas Muggeridge: "...it would be nice if in the fullness of time if we could encourage and fashion a typically British style of deejay....As an example, I would cite John Peel. He has his own style, which is very interesting..."[8]
  • From "The Raver": ""Peter Cook's new Private Eye record a gas, with amazing John Peel imitations" (link as above)
  • Singles reviewed by Chris Welch: "Spirit; "I Got A Line On You" (CBS); "According to John Peel on my wireless set, Spirit's last album was one of the best sounds of '68. Hoping for a name check - I entirely agree..." (link as above)
  • Blind Date with Roy Wood of the Move: Liverpool Scene: "Burdock River Run" and "Percy Parslow's Hamster Farm" from the LP "The Amazing Adventures Of" (RCA): "I like this very much...This is the kind of album John Peel will play each week on his show...." . Misunderstood: "Children Of The Sun" (Fontana): "...Terrible. Even the guitar was crap now I've listened to it all. I don't know why they bothered. I don't think even John Peel would play this. Oh yeah, I like his show. It's quite interesting. but he does play some weird stuff at times" (link as above)
  • Letters page - response to article on pop single reissues: "...it seems we have no worthwhile groups in this country. Of course we have, if only the BBC would let us hear them instead of constantly shoving the same records at us all the time - the one great exception being John Peel" (link as above)
  • February 22: "Explaining Englebert - Singer who splits the pop world" by Tony Wilson; "If Englebert Humperdinck ever toped the bill at the Roundhouse, that bastion of progressive underground music, there would be wholesale hari-kari [sic] among the hippies and John Peel would hand in his earphones..." [9]
  • Blind Date with Peter Sarstedt: Peter Cook: "The Loneliness of the Long Playing Record" (Private Eye): "It's Peter Cook, isn't it? He did a very good imitation of John Peel on Cilla's TV show...." (link as above)
  • "More than an album, a rarity". Enthusiastic review of Liverpool Scene's "Amazing Adventures Of; "; ...John Peel's production is cleverly paced and presented with the minumum of pretension and the maximum of taste..." (link as above)
  • March 1: "Now Pop Catches Up WIth Poetry" - interview with the Liverpool Scene. They say Peel is "a friend rather than our producer" and claim their success is because pop lyrics are much better these days. ""It's become a cliché to say it, but it's because of Dylan and the Beatles" said Mike [Evans]. "And John Peel. He's allowed to present poetry on a sort of pop fringe show"" (i.e. Night Ride)[10]
  • March 8: From "The Raver": "John Peel on the Concorde: "It's all rather amazing. Perhaps they can house Britain's homeless in it"....Blues and progressive music should be doing well. But some clubs have had to close because of groups not turning up for gigs. Peter Reddaway, manager of the Locarno, Swindon, says becasuse some groups hadn't turned up or couldn't play for technical reasons, his audeince dropped from 1,000 to 174, even for John Peel and Ten Years After". [11]
  • "It can't be long before Ron Geesin takes over the world". Interview by Chris Welch; "Among those who have helped Ron to gain more exposure is John Peel...." (link as above)
  • March 15: "Fear not for the Trinity!" Interview with Brian Auger: "There is a very exciting musical scene here....I really can't understand what's going on because there are so many new bands that never get a hearing, apart from John Peel. He has been voted number one deejay, surely people see something in that?"[12]
  • Mailbag: Letter condemning DJs as "lucky lads", "middlemen"; and "overactive mediocrities" illustrated by picture of JP in headphones, T-shirt and football scarf, with caption "John Peel - a lucky lad?" (link as above)
  • March 22: "MM Investigation Why do some groups have this death wish?" by Bob Dawbarn. Article (with photo of JP) accuses some groups of damaging the club scene by "pricing themselves out of the business" or by not turning up to gigs. Mentions the gig Peel later recalled as a disaster, at the Locarno Balroom, Swindon, when only 74 people turned up. According to the Locarno's promoter, the low turnout for JP was the result of no-shows by bands in previous weeks.[13]
  • "Sound Sense, Sound Scene" compiled by Chris Hayes. Readers' letters, mostly asking about equipment used by musicians, but one reader wishes to obtain the LP by Fever Tree, played on Top Gear as a US import. The reply; "John Peel recommends you try the shop where he gets most of his American LPs: One Stop Records, 40 South Molton Street, London W1. You have to wait two to three weeks and they cost between 59s 6d and 62s 6d." (link as above)
  • March 29: Album reviews: "Velvet Fogg (Pye)...By far the best of three Pye adventures into modern groupery, with sleevenotes suduced [sic] from John Peel..."[14]
  • April 12: Album reviews include budget-price reissue; "Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: "Sate As Milk" (Marble Arch): Group that launched a thousand hippies from Birmingham to London on a J.P.-backed crusade on their behalf...." [15]
  • April 19: Mailbag: "Driving music off the air". A listener writes: "The BBC have statred their plot to drive music off the airways[sic]. Top Gear has been moved to seven on Sunday evening and Mike Raven's show as been moved to ten and cut by a third...so, after a couple of months, the BBC can take the programmes off because of a drastic fall in listening figures. What comes next - Pete Drummond's show and John Peel's Night Ride?" Another reader says he's organising a petition to send to the BBC, demanding that TG remains in its current time slot.[16]
  • April 26: "BBC Radio Gives Unknowns A Boost". News of changes to Radio 1's schedules - as well as the Top Gear time change mentioned above, "On Wednesdays, from 8.15 to 9.15 p.m, John Peel's evening series moves to this earlier time." The headline refers to a new Sunday afternoon talent show, hosted by Ray Moore. [17]
  • May 3: From "The Raver": "Chicken Shack turned up for John Peel show without their own equipment - Own up!" ("Own up!" was a catchphrase in "The Raver")[18]
  • May 10: "Now Jethro Tull aim for the Pop Thirty". Interview with the band's Ian Anderson: "The chart scene is really important...Eventually it will get the Underground on TV....I'd like to see people like the Family, the Nice and John Peel....Peel could do a lot."[19]
  • Ad for Disc and Music Echo on jazz record review page (p.21): "JOHN PEEL writes about underground centres OUTSIDE London in today's issue of Disc. The music for which John carries a torch is generally associated with London, but... " Calls JP "the uncrowned king of the underground" (link as above)
  • May 10: Mailbag: "Despite the lack of current good material played on Radio One, I think we ought to count ourselves lucky that there are three very talented disc jockeys on Radio One - namely Pete Drummond, John Peel and Mike Raven..." (link as above)
  • May 17: Club News: "John Peel is to make five appearances at Mothers in quick time - with Steppenwolf (May 18), Jon Hiseman's Colosseum and Pete Brown's Battered Ornaments (25), John Fahey (31), Procol Harum (June 7) and Deep Purple (14)..." [20]
  • Interview with Glenn Campbell of the newly re-formed Misunderstood. Mentions JP's support but also says "Basically we want to form a commercial, entertaining band", which may explain why Peel wasn't so impressed by them as he had been by the original group. (link as above)
  • Mailbag - letter from reader living in Deal, Kent: "I am unable to pick up Radio One after 6 p.m.. As John Peel and Mike Raven are on after this time and Pete Drummond's programme starts at 5.30, there is for me only half an hour's music on 247...." (link as above)
  • May 24: News item; "Vance back on 1"; "Tommy Vance, one of the original deejays on Radio One's Top Gear - before John Peel took over - returns to Radio One for a month from June 2. " (as holiday relief for daytime DJ Tony Brandon)[21]
  • Mailbag: "I listened to a Jazz Workshop after after hearing John Peel's programme and heard music of incredible beauty....Mike Gibbs' band had a lot in common with progressive pop but scored over it in feeling and musicianship....Unfortunately, being jazz, his music will not get the attention it deserves - unless of course Peel turns on to jazz". (link as above)
  • May 31: "Peel at Proms": "Deejay John Peel has been signed as one of the comperes at London's Pop Proms at the Royal Albert Hall...He will compere the performance on July 2 which features the Incredible String Band and the Family...."[22]
  • From "The Raver": "Howlin' Wolf-John Dummer Speakeasy show nearly a disaster until Wolf managed to get things going late in set. Peter Green, Long John Baldry and John Peel involved in heated inquest" (link as above)
  • Brian Auger in Blind Date: Holy Modal Rounders: Side One of the Elektra album "The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders": "Freak out folk music, psychedelic folk...I should think that John Peel would play a section of it. It's the sort of strange thing he would play on his programme..."(link as above)
  • "Mothers - Provincial Success Story". Article on Birmingham club,"generally regarded as the leading blues and progressive club in the provinces" with Peel photo and quote;: "The people in Birmingham are lucky to have such a place..." (Link as above)
  • Mailbag; "So John Peel and Pete Drummond have the most boring voices on Radio One. Could it be that they have enough variation in their programmes and therefore have no need to sound exciting or initiate us in the mysteries of making shepherd's pie?..." (link as above)
  • June 7: News in brief; JP said to be host at the Cambrdige Midsummer Pop Festival; "a series of free concerts will be held from June 8-11". On same page, "Mayall at Bath"; JP to compere "an all-day Festival of Blues in Bath on June 28" [23]
  • Mailbag: Reader in Newcastle writes "If John Peel is not wanted on Radio One why not give him an hour on Radio Three" Also letter from Witchseason Productions' Anthea Joseph and Huw Price thanking those who responded with help after Fairport Convention's road accident - Peel among them (link as above)
  • June 14: "Riche Scores A Triumph". Review of Riche Havens concert at Royal Albert Hall (also on bill; Eclection, Caravan, Poet and the One Man Band; see Gigography 1969); "John Peel compered in his usual easy-going manner"[24]
  • June 21: "Who Needs Radio One? MM writers air their grievances about the BBC's pop programme": Full-page feature.
  • Bob Dawbarn: "Thw awful, dead hand of the deejays lies over Radio One. There are, of course, two or three who care about the music and can even talk informatively about it - John Peel, Mike Raven and Pete Drummond, for example. But most of them might just as well be selling frozen peas...";
  • Royston Eldirdge: "John Peel is an acquired taste but I've acquired it now...";
  • Alan Walsh: "Deejays like Mike Raven, Pete Drummond and John Peel distribure information not 'personality', although Peel is showing signs of late of a sense of his own cult following..."
  • Also interview with Alan Freeman; "You know I think John Peel deserves full marks for what he brought to Radio One - I know that, in my case, I might not have progressed far enough to get into so much of today's music without him...Mind you I have a feeling that Peel has mellowed just a fraction without capitulating. But Thank God he came along" [25]
  • June 21: "The Pop Poll That Matters". Voting form for 1969 MM poll, with short article and Peel photo; "Over the past few years, one deejay has emerged head and shoulders above the rest in influence, popularity and integrity. John Peel's year as perhaps the most resoected deejay in the pop music business started when he was voted Top Disc Jockey in the Melody Maker Pop Poll" (link as above)
  • Interview with Famous Jug Band, who'd just released their first single; "The group have recorded for John Peel's Wednesday night show..." (link as above).
  • Ad: "Shurwood Management are very happy to represent Pete Drummond, John Peel, Johnnie Walker." All enquiries Clive Selwood" (plus phone number) (link as above)
  • June 28: Ad for Colosseum with numerous rave quotes from the press, including one from Peel's column in Petticoat magazine: "Saw Colosseum at Ronnie Scott's. What a treat! They were excellent."[26]
  • Mailbag; letter from reader (and future MM writer?) Colin Irwin, in praise of the Who's "Tommy": "A pop opera is a completely original idea and has done more to advance pop music and gain the respect of serious music admirers than all of John Peel's underground groups" (link as above)
  • July 5: Review by Chris Welch of Bath Blues Festival: "John Peel once again proved what a tremendous asset he is to any open air event, not merely as an informed compere, but as the man who can keep vast crowds cool and control the excesses of over zealous stewards". Peel also named in "The Raver" as DJ of the week (or any other week) for protecting Welch and "Lenzo Doggard" (possibly Record Mirror's Lon Goddard?) from the stewards. [27]
  • "The Raver": "John Peel lanuches Dandelion Records this Friday with a macrobiotic buffet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts" (link as above)
  • July 12: "New label release" - news item; "Dandelion, a new record label started by deelay John Peel and Clive Selwood of Selwood Management, is to be released in this country by CBS Records...John Peel will produce all product for the label...."[28]
  • Mike Raven in Blind Date: Tea and Symphony: "Boredom" (Harvest); "Haven't a clue. It sounds nearer John Peel's bag than mine..."  (link as above).
  • Ad for Redcar Jazz Club ("The North's major venue for Pop and Jazz") in gig listings section lists the club's many "featured artistes", Peel among them (link as above).
  • Mailbag; letter from a group of deejays, including JP, Tony Blackburn, Pete Murray, Ed Stewart, Jimmy Young and David Jacobs, asking for support and sponsorship of "mammoth Oxfam walk" to be held in London that weekend. (link as above)
  • July 19: Interview with Mick Taylor, who'd just joined the Rolling Stones: "I want to get a flat together in London, then go to America", Mick told me this week, hair drifting over his ears, a handbag slung over his shoulders, à la John Peel..."[29]
  • July 26: News item; "A 'Pop For Peace' concert is to be held in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saturday....The concert hopes to have top Irish group the Freshmen playing, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono, John Peel and Julie Felix are being invited."[30]
  • August 2: Mailbag; "If the BBC can allow John Peel to cater for the undeground and Rosko for the soul and R&B fans, why can't they allow us a special programme featuring the music most popular in dance halls today - ska, rock steady and reggae...."[31]
  • August 9: News item: "Peel gets schools broadcasting job"; a five-week series starting in September. Also; "John's Wednesday night programme, "John Peel", will be dropped at the end of September and "Top Gear" will be switched from Sunday evenings to Saturdays from 3-5 p.m, "a peak time when reception is good", says the BBC...However Peel will be getting another series "in a few months' time" to replace the Wednesday night show"".[32]
  • Interview with Brian Auger, who criticises the BBC for "just playing Bubblegum all day....At the moment there is so much of just the one thing that we are falling behind even Europe. Surely the BBC could draw a lesson from the fact that John Peel collected just about every deejay award last year" (link as above)
  • Mailbag; "Recipe for a "supergroup"; Take two/three middling musicians from second-string pop groups; add competent session-type musicians; transport all to a secret hideaway country cottage; invite down Chris Welch; announce group, keep public waiting. Add John Peel and make first record. Then flee to the USA." (link as above)
  • August 16: Singles reviews by Chris Welch: "Bridget St John; "To B Without A Hitch (Dandelion):...This is a John K. Peel production and a fine job has been performed in conveying Bridget's voice and guitar to the public" [33]
  • "John Peel is a liar!" Ad, with Peel photo, for Dandelion Records' first releases. "That is, he said hastily, I'd be lying if I said that it wouldn't be nice if Dandelion Records were to be found heaped up in every home in Britain...."(link as above)
  • Mailbag: letter from listener who includes "B.A." in her address; "By taking off John Peel's Wednesday evening show, the BBC is once again emphasising its refusal to accept the open-end direction in which popular music is now moving..." (link as above)
  • September 20 "Pop Poll '69" (p.1) Cartoon by MM's Jimmy Thomson on front page, showing Peel and three other winners in annual readers' poll.(Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, possibly Christine Perfect of Chicken Shack)[34]
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