John Peel Wiki
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Related articles: Peel On Record Covers, Peel On Record Cover Sleevenotes


John Peel, by his own admission, was no musician. He could not sing in any other than a vibratoless low baritone [1] and knew no instruments, [2], and so limited himself to spoken word appearances, whistling, and once only as part of a backing chorus to one of his favourite bands. (The exception to this rule is his performance of the original Top Gear sig on jew's harp, included on the BBC Records Top Gear album from 1970.) He started a project recording hippy poetry (including some by Syd Barrett) to musical backgrounds in around 1967, but abandoned it when he realised that it would be a dubious legacy that could come back to haunt him, and claims all available tapes were destroyed. [3]

He admired musicians and, especially in the earlier years of his career, valued his friendships with some of those whose work he championed. Peel first made some tentative forays into management and production in the United States, notably during his time in California when he attempted to promote the career of The Misunderstood. Back in the UK, his popularity during 1967-69 made him an in-demand LP sleeve note writer and occasional producer, although he played down his abilities in the latter role. Music business apathy towards performers he respected eventually caused him to found and run a record label called Dandelion in 1969. It lasted into the early 70s, but by his own admission (again) Peel had no head for business and therefore, by only recording material he liked personally, made no money at all (despite gaining a UK chart entry for the band Medicine Head.)

Nevertheless, he was namechecked in a variety of songs by grateful bands either during sessions or in early releases. (One band, the Mighty Jungle Beasts, even named their record label John Peel Is A Good Bloke Records and optimistically gave their sole release a catalogue number of JP051 [3].) This page is an attempt to catalogue any occasions when he was either a performer on an official release (having refused to participate in any of the session recordings) or mentioned in the course of a song by name.



Peel recording a greeting when Radio London was closing down and how he has been on the station for about 5 months where he met some wonderful people and hopes his Perfumed Garden show would be back in the future somehow.
  • Liverpool Scene: 'The Amazing Adventures of Che Guevara, Part 2 (LP- Amazing Adventures Of) (RCA: "Produced by John Peel")
Track features backchat between JP in control booth and poet Mike Evans in studio, following the lines "Billy Fury and John Peel track down/members of the outlawed Flint and/Denbighshire Hunt"
Peel reads a children's story at the conclusion of this track. He appeared to find this increasingly embarrassing (as mentioned on the 30 April 1981 show), and on one show from the 90s did not play his contribution.
Another children's story reading.
Begins with an electronic treatment of Peel's spoken voice by Brian Hodgson and Delia Derbyshire (of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) and ends with Peel playing the theme tune to Top Gear on the Jew's Harp. (Sleeve note: "The performances included on this record were first broadcast by John Peel in "Top Gear" during August, September and October 1969")
Famously included in John Peel's Record Box, this curious version of a Hare Krishna chant is credited on the label as featuring Peel on 'tape, reels and vocal'. He also claimed (26 October 1991) that Sheila and John Walters were present on the recording (and that he had nearly all available copies).


Despite his claim in 2004 that he had 'never sung on ANYTHING' with the exception of the Altered Images track, both John and Sheila are featured in the 'choir' singing Christmas carols. See Christmas.
John was featured on Top Of The Pops purportedly playing the mandolin part, which would be difficult, since he is holding it flat on his lap. In fact, in 2003, Ray Jackson of the band Lindisfarne, who actually played mandolin on this, sued Stewart for royalties. Jackson claimed he was paid a small sum for the session and never made any more when the song became a hit.
Peel speaks in this spoken word album, amongst other people from Merseyside about Liverpool
John appears along with other DJs in a short extract from 15 December 1971.
John plays the Jew's Harp.
  • David Bedford: 'Some Bright Stars For Queen's College (LP-Nurses Song With Elephants)' (Dandelion)
Released on his own label, this features JP as a 'pipe twirler' along with several others.
A live recording at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, 1974-09-08, but not available until 1994, and not officially released. Peel plays 'percussion', and it is also notable that Ivor Cutler and Mike Oldfield appear on this CD.
Intro to title track includes a sample of Peel saying something like "a tumble over there but still nice to hear".
Peel amongst others talks about Marc Bolan after his death to Steve Dixon on BFBS in 1977. The record was an interview disc obtained free by sending away a special card insert from the Marc - The Words And Music album.


The only other time John allowed himself to be caught singing, in a kind of rugby chorus background and some whistling, which he claimed was his own idea. Peel related the story of this recording session a few years later to John Walters: "I think I did a gig with them at Leicester Polytechnic. They were very very good. I can say this now: I was very smitten by Clare Grogan, the only time I’ve ever felt infatuated by a pop star…She was almost the only person, apart of course from my wife, who could have persuaded me to go into a recording studio and sing! Her and the drummer [Michael 'Tich' Anderson] came and collected me after a programme. They hadn’t warned me about it beforehand, which is probably a very good idea, because I would have found excuses not to go. They took me out to a recording studio. On the way out there, I was horrified to find that the drummer and Clare, put together, weighed the same as me, which is a very depressing statistic. We got out there, and they wanted me to sing on 'Song Sung Blue', the Neil Diamond song." Transcribed from Peeling Back The Years, Part 5.
As might be expected, a spoken word contribution.
Sampled talkovers.
  • Andreas Ammer/FM Einheit: 'Voice-The Radio (CD-Radio Inferno)' (Rough Trade, UK release)
An ambitious album based on Dante's 'Divine Comedy'.
Peel is the narrator on the album.
Peel does the narrative on the album.
Peel does the narrative on the album.
Contains a Peel link from session tracks 'Ici Les Enfants' & 'Fat Fun' "...are you boys getting at me?"
  • John Peel / AEB 400 Blows: 'The Music Show (Flexi-disc 7")' (Thumb Gallery)
Sound collage with effects by AEB 400 Blows with narration by John Peel giving dates and details of the art show entitled 'The Music Show' at Thumb Gallery, 20/21 D'Arblay Street, London, W1V 3FN.
Peel does the narrative
  • Mac Attack: The Art Of Drums (Wicked Dance Mix) (12") Baad!
A sample of Peel saying 'Where's The Party' is on the track
  • Elektronische Musik Aus: Koeln: Sunken Galleons And Pirate Pictures (LP - EMAK 3) Originalton West
A sample of Peel reading a story, which was once featured on a Tyrannosaurus Rex record
(JP: 'You may well laugh. Actually I'm on a bit of a marigold comedown myself after that. I've been sampled clearly.' ) [4]
Spoken word intro by Peel suggesting they call an LP "Psylons Is Golden".
Vinnie samples Peel's voice introducing his only Festive Fifty entry, 'Road Pizza', and subjects it to tape loops.
The record featured members of Radio Bremen singing Happy Birthday to Peel in a hardcore punk / reggae sound with samples of Peel from his radio shows and You'll Never Walk Alone.


Includes a sample of Peel saying, 'what do you think of the programme so far?'.
  • Emma Gibbs Loves Badges: 'Assured' (7") Utopia (1990)
  • Bryan Ferry: 'Rescue Me (LP - Taxi )' (Virgin) (1993)
This cover of Fontella Bass' hit contains a sample of John Peel's voice saying "cheers" at the start of the track.
First track intro to the compilation is a clip of Peel on the phone saying, "Hello, it's John Peel from BBC Radio One. Just wondering how you were coping with the fog. Welcome."
An instrumental track that has in the background a recording of Craig Scanlon of the Fall, on the phone to Peel with a match report of Manchester City v West Ham. This is taken from the Peel show from 12 February 1994.
This is a hardcore acid band, and the release was on purple vinyl.
  • Rubher: Johnny Peel [Is Dead] (7 inch - Red Truck EP) Lighthouse (1995)
Different samples of Peel are played on the track.
  • Billy Bragg: 'Deck The Halls With Bows Of Holly' (Peel Session)
Bragg is playing live in the studio, and John joins in on this track: see 22 December 1996.
  • Die Pudelbande: John Peel Interlude 1 & 2 (CD - Besuch) Besuch (1998)
A recording of Peel from an unknown broadcast mentioning the band and having a slight technical problem in playing the record. [5]


  • High Fidelity: Pig Might Fly (LP - The Omnichord Album) Plastique
This 2001 album by Sean Dickson's project includes a track built around a melody composed and played on an omnichord by Peel.
Archive audio of Peel talking about the Ruts' In A Rut
  • Mr & Mrs Christmas: 'The Girl' (White Label)
Peel's voice was sampled talking about Rod Stewart used on the track that was broadcast on 19 October 2004 when Underworld were hosting the show while Peel was on holiday in Peru with his wife.
A rare piece of music, where John Peel collaborates with Tony Blackburn on a cover of Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond's song and was played on BBC Radio One. Not surprisingly the record was not released. It can be heard on a show from 28 October 2004.
A posthumous tribute containing numerous spoken samples (2005).
 Cuban Boys: Ten Shillings A Years EP: The Cuban Boys On TV (WHITE LABEL==001)
"The History of British Radio" Peel sample can be heard alongside other radio broadcasters on show from 06 December 2000
Samples of John's voice are included. This made the 2005 Festive Fifty (#13).
Sadly, a posthumous contribution (released 2005).
Disc 4 of the box set includes snippets of an interview with the group's David Gedge, conducted at the 1995 Phoenix Festival and originally broadcast on 15 July 1995, along with the group's live set, recorded the previous day.
Disc 5 of the box set begins with Peel introducing the group live on stage at the Sound City event in Leeds, and includes later excerpts of chat with David Gedge, as broadcast on the show on 12 April 1996.
  • Various - John Peel's Festive 15 (compilation CD issued with 'Uncut' magazine, Jan 2006)
There is a 'hidden' track at the end of this disc, not listed on the CD sleeve. It comprises a 17 second snippet of Peel discussing the Smiths, presumably taken from a show in which one of their earlier sessions was broadcast.
An excerpt of Peel introducing Ron Geesin on his BBC Radio One Top Gear show from 14th August 1968.


Recording of Peel talking about grindcore music.
Sample recording of Peel from his BBC Radio One shows
Brief sample of Peel talking about his ideal job is heard towards the end of Eric Lau track "YNWAJP" on Record Store Day release featuring samples of music from Peel's record collection.
  • Honey Radar / John Peel: Middle Class Revolt / "The Fall" (7") Third Uncle Records / Chunklet Industries (2018)
The Fall as introduced By John Peel on the B-side of the single.

Name Checks

Note that Peel's name is appended to every Strange Fruit session release and most of those released by other companies such as Sub Pop.


"How would you feel/In the place of John Peel/You can't please all the musicians/All the time". A song about doing a Top Gear session; more details in Ken Garner, The Peel Sessions, p.64
Psychedelic folk rock duo (and see below) who Peel funded and persuaded to change their name from The Way We Live when they signed to Dandelion.
Her version of 'This Old Man', with lyrics altered to "Peel and Pig/Peel and Pig/My love for you is really big."
"This is for Mr John Peel and if you know it, he's been so kind to me"


Dave Vanian cheekily interjects the cry, 'Eat your heart out, John Peel!'
  • Damned: 'Burglar' (Peel Session)
'I'll nick anything that's removable, including John Peel's record collection. I'll have his priceless blues LPs away...'
  • Sham 69: 'What 'Av We Got' (Peel Session), recorded 1977-11-28
'What av we got, John Peel'
'Do you ken John Peel? Do You think he's alright? They keep him off the telly so he's out of sight. Doyen of the airwaves, he's on at night, they don't pay him much money, and we think that ain't right'.
Includes the line 'then they go to Rough Trade to buy Siouxsie & the Banshees / They heard John Peel play it just the other night'.
Previously recorded for a Peel session in the summer of 1979, the track features the exclamations 'Awright, John?' and 'Thanks, John!' which top and tail it. These were retained on the re-recorded version, released in October 1979, with one difference: the session version has a massed greeting at the start of the song, whereas a lone voice provides it on the released version.
Recorded live at the Marquee and famed for the 'chorus' of 'Albert Tatlock'. Originally recorded as a Peel Session.
Played on 14 August 1979 and 29 April 1980. Based on a Kenny Rogers song.
  • Vitus Dance: 'Disgusting' (Peel Session).[5]
Name checks Peel and John Walters.
"Not even Uncle John will get to play this song"


"Take a little listen to your John Peel show"
"Come see John Peel eating his pudding"
Norman Lovett impersonates John, strumming one chord on a guitar to the memorable lyrics, "I gave myself a ring/To make sure I was not in/But I was/Because I answered/Wasn't that a funny thing/Oh yeah." He then announces that he intends to go and buy an inflatable Kenny Dalglish doll. 'Miniatures' was an album of 50 tracks all less than a minute long, with the invited artists including Robert Fripp and Andy Partridge of XTC. It was compiled by Morgan Fisher (Mott The Hoople, British Lions). Released 1980. (Cherry Red)
See also Television Personalities, 1978 above. Cover version with updated lyrics released in 1980 which still name-checks Peel.
"Efter jobbet klockan tio rusar jag hem precis i tid & satta på min radio & lyssna på John Peel's show" (After work at ten o'clock I rush home just in time & put on my radio and listen to John Peel's show)
  • UB40 Session #2 first broadcast 25 Jan 1982, repeated 11 Feb 1982 and again on 27 April.  Contains Prince Baldhead Meets Gymslip And The Schoolgirls At The Chemist. Toasted intro states
"Right about now this  is to all the bad djs down at Radio 1 in a rub a dub style - this one is for the man called John Peel, wheeler dealer, mash it."
It would appear that Clare Grogan is attempting to get John to sing along with the chorus, on the grounds that "anybody can sing this...this is your big moment." Apparently, he voiced over "Not on your nelly" on the first broadcast. However, as can be seen above, she managed it eventually.
Lyric goes, "she goes to the disco every night and hopes she will meet some fantastic guy - a sort of mixture between Barry Manilow and John Peel". Peel mused when played on 24 August 1982: "Although I do think a cross of Barry Manilow and myself would not live!"
  • R.a.f.gier: 'John Peel Said (LP-Kiss Me Goodbye)' (Starving Missile). First released in 1985.
  • City Limits Crew: Keep It On (Peel Session) [9]
Rap lyric goes "John Peel, the man on the radio".
John's rather sour comment on this was "I’m not certain that having something that sounds like a bunch of old washing machine parts being dragged around in a sack named after you is entirely complimentary."
Marc Riley mentions Peel's name before introducing the song from this live album
  • Three Wise Men: 'Hard Bop' (Peel Session)
"Toil, toil, toil and trouble/This is John Peel, and it's time to rumble." [11]
Peel and Walters are named amongst many others.
A cover of the Merle Haggard number, includes an extra verse: "Well hello John Peel, what we want to know / When you going to quit? Where will we go? / We'll never get played on the radio / But we'll see you down on skid row."
  • Subterraneanz: 'J.P.s Music (LP-Drastic)' (Big Store)
"I'm listening to John Peel's music"


Ipswich band Bleach recorded a short jingle for their debut Peel session, first broadcast 02 December 1990. Based on their single 'Wipe It Away', the song includes the line, 'we tune our dials to Radio One / the week just ain't the same if we don't listen to John'. Afterwards Peel commented, 'that's the way to get yourselves rebooked, no question'.
"Where we going, straight to John Peel's listeners". Peel's reply: "Well I hope so."
  • Ragga Twins: 'Bring Up The Mic Some More / Ragga Trip' (Peel Session)
"Big shout to big John Orange Peel, you know we respect you to the maximum." Peel's reply: "I think I can overlook the orange peel business in view of the general excellence of the work." [19]
Recorded in April 1978 but not released until the Revola compilation was issued in 1992.
  • Diblo Dibala: 'Matchatcha Wetu' (LP - OK Madam) (Afric Music) (1993)
Andy Kershaw plays this on his tribute show 31st October 2004 and introduces it as a record that mentions 1 minute and 12 seconds in 'BBC John Peely' as part of the lyrics: "John loved Diblo's guitar playing, so admired him, that one afternoon we were down here at the BBC and we learned that Diblo was over in Stern's African Records. We raced over there just so John could get his autograph."[21]
"He used to hear them on John Peel"
  • Fugees Tranzlator Crew: Rebel Rapper (Peel Session) (1994)
  • Rubher: Johnny Peel [Is Dead] (7 inch - Red Truck EP) Lighthouse (1995)
  • Fugees: Blame It On The Sun (Peel Session) (1996)
"On the John Peel show, giving you a little reggae, a little R&B, a little hip-hop."
"I got more rhymes than John's got Peel Sessions."
  • Bis: 'We Love John Peel' (Peel Session) [22]
  • Wauvenfold: Clip (Clopped For Peel) (session)[23]
Session version of instrumental that later appeared on the 3 Fold album.
  • Jeremy: 'I Wish I Was John Peel's Son (Compilation LP-Suction Prints)' (Sorted) (1998)
Brief (52 seconds) and to the point feedback drone. Played by Peel on his 10 September 1998 show.
An instrumental, after which Peel comments, 'Thanks 10 5 Neuton for the session.' [24]
  • Man...Or Astroman?: Inside The Head Of Mr John Peel[25]
  • Man...Or Astroman?: Welcome To The Wicky Wacky World Of John Peel[26]
  • Man...Or Astroman?: 'Oh Cha Cha Cha And Once Again Ladies & Gentlemen I'm John Peel And While Only A Minor Political Activist I'd Like To Say That Man Or Astroman Is Indeed My Favourite Band Even Moreso Than The Fall' (Peel Session) [27]

2000s and beyond

"It's like a nuclear war happy hardcore wow John Peel play some more HappyHardcore."
  • Dalek Beach Party: John Peel (LP - Dead Men On Holiday) (white label)
A tribute from an unfortunately named album (2003). [28]
  • French: Crispy Ambulance John Peel Jingle (Peel Session) (2003)
"John Peel plays Fall, Loudon Wainwright and the White Stripes, John Peel plays Ivor Cutler, Tuesday, Wednesday ,Thursday night, John Peel plays Melt Banana, New Bad Things and Crispy Ambulance, John Peel plays the French, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday nights"
  • Hamfatter: 'John Peel (On My Radio) (LP - Fireworks)' (Pink Hedgehog)
Another release from 2003. The singer regrets missing a call from Peel, but concludes he must like the record and will play it on the radio and they'll all be rich and famous!
This happy hardcore epic made the 2003 Festive Fifty at number 9. Apart from John, it mentions other Radio 1 DJs such as Dave Pearce, Judge Jules and Pete Tong in the process of bemoaning the fact that JP is the only one to play hardcore tracks above 120 bpm.
A history of the band in less than two minutes, which namechecks John: 'DJ John Peel says they're his favourite band because they're always different and always the same.'Lyric illustration.
  • Jon E Cash: 'Cami Carzee-John Peel VIP Dub (CDR)' (white label)
John is namechecked throughout. Played by him on 20 April 2004, 04 May 2004.
"Forty two years from the radio from WRR to the John Peel show"
The album title mentions Peel's name and was the one who played their songs on his show.
Oi-style and one minute long Swedish tribute: 'John Peel was a great in peace.'
Electronic instrumental tribute to the DJ
Psychedelic folk rock duo who had previously recorded for Dandelion (see above).
  • Eat Static: 'Their CD De-Classified features this tribute: "Dedicated to the memory of John Peel, a true maverick and a lover of all music wacky'n weird...You will be sorely missed." (Solstice Music International, 2007.)
  • MDK Cartel: 'John Peel (7 inch-Hostile Takeover)' (Unknown label) 2007
"John Peel left a hole in the BBC." 
  • Drumbo: 'To The Loft Of Ravenscroft (CD-City Of Refuge)' (Proper) (2008)
Instrumental version paying tribute to John Ravenscroft (John Peel's real name) by John French, under the name of Drumbo, who was a member of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band.
"Piss off the British press when I’m like, “Who’s John Peel?”
Affectionate and effervescent tribute from a favoured JP band, written as if he were still alive (2009).
A tribute to Peel by the former Spearmint frontman, listing many of the artists that the DJ introduced to the song's author.
  • Rotzkotz: John Peel (Live Bonus Track) (CD - Much Funny) Sireena (2011)
German language song with the English words 'The Best Radio' in the lyrics.
"Did The Bastards At The BBC kill John Peel? Did The Bastards Slay John?. Dilute His Memories With BBC Six, Celebrate His Birthday With Teenage Kicks" 
  1. He was fond of saying "you should hear me sing that" after playing a tune he was particularly fond of, but never carrying this threat out.
  2. He was given a guitar and practice amp for Christmas 1988 but surrendered the amp to his son William and had one of the strings broken by an unknown person, so never learned it.
  3. 13 January 1996 (BFBS).
  4. #1, recorded 1976-11-30.
  5. First broadcast on 04 October 1979.
  6. Recorded 1979-10-03.
  7. #3, recorded 1981-09-04.
  8. #1, recorded 1982-07-28.
  9. Their only recorded session from 1985-01-15.
  10. One and only, recorded 1982-09-23.
  11. Recorded 1986-11-18.
  12. Recorded 1987-04-16.
  13. #1, recorded 1988-05-08.
  14. #2, recorded 1988-08-02.
  15. From session #6, recorded 1987-02-10.
  16. Renamed session version of ‘The First Big Weekend’. Recorded 1997-03-04.
  17. Recorded 1990-11-20.
  18. Recorded 1991-10-24.
  19. Session #2, first TX 23 February 1992.
  20. #1, recorded 1992-07-21, first broadcast 07 August 1992.
  21. 31 October 2004 (Andy Kershaw).
  22. #2, recorded 1996-06-04.
  23. #1, broadcast 04 December 2001, recording date unknown
  24. One and only session, recorded 1999-03-09.
  25. From session #2, recorded 1995-03-19.
  26. From session #3, recorded 1996-06-01.
  27. From session #5, recorded 1999-06-27.
  28. Actually a surf instrumental version of the traditional English song, "D'ye ken John Peel", played twice in the autumn of 2003 [1] [2].