John Peel Wiki

(Related pages: Peel On Record, Peel On Record Covers)

“The lot of the part-time sleevenote writer is not, haunters of the demi-monde, an easy one. Bravura flourishes of imagined “style”, gruesome lapses into tweeness, and overconfident predictions of impending greatness, the latter often stimulated by a commissioner’s cheque, have a disquieting habit of slithering into view in secondhand shops and/or your local branch of Woolworths.” (John Peel, Street To Street: A Liverpool Album Vol 1, sleevenotes, 1980)

"The problem is that sleeve-notes are as passe as the string bass and the military two-step. Photos of the group looking moody in a wood somewhere - that's what the public wants these days." ("John MacPeel", JSD Band, JSD Band, sleevenotes, 1972)

The following chronological list of Peel's occasional excursions into the world of sleevenote-writing was compiled largely from the AllMusic John Peel 'Credits' page. Other sources are indicated with numbered or other links (it may be necessary to use the zoom function on your browser to read these easily). Many thanks to members of the Peel Mailing List for extra information. Please add further data if known.

Sleeve Notes Written By Peel

JP: "In the summer of 1966 I was working for a radio station in Southern California and, in my capacity as resident Englishman and therefore intimate friend of all groups, I had to contribute a column of light hearted chatter about the British music scene to the station paper. Part of this column was a listing of the current British top ten. As far as the inhabitants of San Bernadino and Riverside counties knew, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers had a string of enormous hits during that summer..." (read more)
JP: “On this LP there is little that is not good, much that is excellent and the occasional flash of brilliance. The Underground is a shifting, undefinable and vital force - the same is true of The Deviants." (read more)
  • v/a: Select Elektra
JP: "In these days, often rancid, it is written in some plastic bound handbook that recorded creations and love are to lie smothered beneath the grasping need for 'Chart' records. New labels spin, laden with good intentions, into the fringes of our understanding with signs crying 'brave' and 'new'..." (read more)
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex: My People Were Fair And Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars On Their Brows
JP: "Tyrannosaurus Rex rose out of the sad and scattered leaves of an older summer. During the dark, grey winter they were tended and strengthened by those who love them...” (read more)
JP:"Is it necessary to talk of "fusions of traditional folk-forms", "musical innovations", "collective explorations" and the like? Answer "No" in sixty words or less. Play this record to those you love."[1] read more)
JP: "I snap up all copies of the first Pentangle LP I see, so that as few people as possible can taunt me over my ‘… Pentangular faithful squatting swollen-eyed and morning-mouthed, outside garish Wilson-Picketted shop windows.’ Kinda cute, huh?" (Street To Street: A Liverpool Album Vol 1, sleevenotes)[2]
JP: "It grows daily more obvious that, following the incredible forces generated by British musicians during the past four years, there is opening up a vast void where the new things should be. The main reasons for this sudden, though predictable, and wholly destructive situation is the lack of opportunities for exposure on the mass media ..." (read more)
JP (06 January 1995): “[Skip Bifferty] were much featured on the programmes I did at the end of the 1960s, Top Gear … and when they put out their only LP, I wrote the sleeve notes, and I was reading them again the other day, and pompous and self-serving they were too. My goodness me! I'm glad you can't read them.”
JP: "To collectors Jeremy "Dealthead" Spencer was only a revered name on rare Black Toad 78s which were recorded between 1929 in a loft belonging to the legendary guitarist Hot Cottage ..." (read more)
"Ramblings" credited to “John and Biscuit Peel”
JP: "Rather appalling sleevenotes by me." (30 September 1996 (BBC World Service))
  • Clark-Hutchinson: A=MH2
JP: "Do you remember people climbing on the scaffolding inside the Alexander Palace during the 24 Hour Technicolour Dream?” (read more)
(Album produced by Peter Shertser and Ian Sippen of Peel's erstwhile associates The Firm, the blues-loving "psychedelic street gang" referred to in his 1967 IT columns and on the Perfumed Garden. Additional sleevenotes (with references to René Daumal and the Maharishi) by (Barry) Miles of International Times.)
JP: "In the autumn of a year which historians have, with the aid of carbon dating, pin-pointed as 1968, I was in the gay carbon-monoxide cloud some authorities call Birmingham, in pursuit of a ladye [sic] with what I considered to be a dangerously high nubility quotient..." (read more)
JP: "There is a lot of good music on this record. Remember Velvett Fogg - you will hear the name again." [1] [2]
JP appears to have signed off his sleevenotes "Johnn Peell".[3]
  • Woody Kern: The Awful Disclosures Of Maria Monk
JP: "Sometime in September of 1968 (a very good year) singer Bridget St John and I drove to Derby to work in a club in that throbbing metropolis with Principal Edwards Magic Theatre. The evening started indifferently when it was amounted that PEMT were not coming and that their place was to be taken by what was described as “a local blues band” ... However, the prospects brightened considerably as the "local blues band" began to play and a small crowd of gentle folk sat around the stage and listened with evident pleasure ..." (read more)
JP: “What about this from ... the first LP from Derby band Woody Kern (1969): ‘I think you’ll like what you hear … watch out for further recorded offerings’. People didn’t – and I have a recurring vision of some gaunt figure sitting on a rock in the Peak District still watching out for the further offerings that never came.” (Street To Street: A Liverpool Album Vol 1, sleevenotes)
JP: "In addition to featuring some well-known, albeit under-exposed, musicians "Top Gear" also tries to direct the wandering attention of its listeners to a torrent of lesser-known people. A selection of the latter will be found lurking within..." (read more)
JP: "If, like me, you’re fed up with super-stars, fraud, pretension, “art rock” and quasi-mystical hoggery then you’ll find this record a considerable treat ..." (read more)
JP: "You probably have your own theories about the ideal format for radio. My personal wish is for a completely flexible and format-less service and the closest I've ever come to a realization of this wish was during 1968-69 in two programmes for the BBC. These were the first half of Wednesday's "Night Ride" and the subsequent son of "Night Ride" that appeared briefly on Wednesday evening before being pruned in the name of uniformity..." (read more)
JP: "It seems many years since that concert at the Orange Show grounds in San Bernardino. It must have been early 1966. The Byrds played, and the Dillards, but Johnnie Darin and I agreed that the Buffalo Springfield were the best thing there. We were working for radio station K/MEN and were very nervous because this was the first concert we'd compered. Neil Young said..." (read more)
  • Moonkyte: Count Me Out
JP (01 February 1997): "To my great horror I discovered that I had written the sleevenotes to it. And they are truly terrible. I mean, they really, really are. I just hope they have not been reproduced in the CD version of it. When I tell you that I refer at one stage to the Pig as 'my lady', that will give you a kind of clue as to the way they were written. Some extraordinary patronising remarks about Bradford, which is where Moonkyte came from...’
JP: "Yeah … Stack waddy. Sweet, charming and gentle. Play the …. heaviest music you ever heard...’ (read more)
JP: "Trudy of Cube Records is growing concerned. She's not actually said anything but the stress lines on her forehead are lengthening daily. Last Friday she was just a little bit too carefree when she asked whether the notes for this LP were yet finished. When she head that it would be this Tuesday without a doubt she seemed to go rather pale..." (read more by clicking here and again on the image)
JP: "Stackwaddy were by no means the easiest band to record. Such technicalities as overdubbing were treated with distain and they refused to run through a song before recording it. A song once done was done and that was all there was to it. “Bugger off, Peel”, they’d shot when I asked them to run through something a second time..." (read more)
JP "This album is even better than the first but the bloody company didn't give me enough time to wrote proper sleeve notes..." (read more)
JP (originally from Disc & Music Echo article, Feb 1972): "The first time I heard tell of Faust was when I saw their extraordinary first LP in its equally extraordinary sleeve and felt that, regardless of the music within, I had to acquire one. When the music turned out to be highly original and very exciting that was a welcome bonus..." (read more)
JP (originally from Disc & Music Echo, March 1973): "I'd love to hear a 10cc album." (Quote used at bottom of back sleeve)
JP: "I reckon that by the year 2000 just about everyone will be a singer songwriter. I mean there are already several hundred thousand LP’s available from sensitive boys and girls with small guitars who detail with ghastly accuracy the contents of their minds and the cravings of their er ... loins. ..." (read more)
  • Roy St. John: Immigration Declaration
JP: "OK! Want to win an exciting electric cooler in decorative colours, with built-in mobility, an eye-level grill, and burners with low-flame control? Betcha do. Well, then. what do the following have in common? The Montereys, the River Bottom Band, the Who, Mrs. St John's Terpsochorean Troopers, Phoenix, Klondike Pete and the Huskies and finally, the Osmonds? Tricky eh? ..." (read more)
JP: "It was 1968 or 1969 ... and Gaffer Peel is compere at a rock festival in Nottingham[3] ... this shower get on stage unannounced. 'Ello', they bellow, stirring the stoned handful out of their torpor, 'you're not gonna like us at, we make hit singles and we're very loud'. They didn't, they do, and they are. At the time I was outraged..." (read more)
  • v/a: Chess Golden Decade Sampler
JP: “One of the good things about this ‘Golden Decade’ series is that it caters for loonies like myself who devote our otherwise drab and miserable lives to the hunt for obscure and deeply unpopular records." [5]
online review: “The liner notes on the sampler album are by John Peel and are particularly funny, informative and full of his joy for music.”
JP: “Crammed with the usual specious stuff about schoolgirls, Biggles and football … deeply and desperately overwritten.” (Street To Street: A Liverpool Album Vol 1, sleevenotes)
JP: "I was downing a bit of a snifter at the BBC Mess a week or so ago with old Dan and Nobby and some of the boys, when who should come sauntering in but old Alan. Alan. Alan Freeman. You remember him surely? Well, what with one thing and another, the conversation turned to music and to Wishbone Ash" ... (read more)
  • v/a: Ten Years Of Hits - Radio 1
JP: "Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it the Persian poet Qast El Hair who said "he who devoureth his brother cannot blame the tiger". I think that applies most particularly to critics of Radio 1, don't you?" ... (read more)
  • v/a: Street To Street: A Liverpool Album Vol 1
JP: Big In Japan, a quixotic cornerstone (that’s not going to look good in ten years’ time, I’m afraid) of Merseyside music, are no more..." (read more)
JP: "Brushing aside with a contemptuous snort all the usual stuff about legacies of fine music, the great sadness in the demise of this most admirable of bands lies, for me, in that in his search for a Celtic identity and sound ..." (read more)
JP (07 July 1982): "I wrote the sleevenotes ... had to go into a record shop this afternoon to read them and see if they were as bad as I thought they were. They weren't for once, actually. Not terrific, but not as bad as some I've done."
  • FSK: Continental Breakfast
JP: "Thomas Meinecke and Michaela Melian once explained FSK's philosophy to me over a bottle of wine. Something to do with all of pop music having been already written and performed, leaving deconstruction and reconstruction as the only course forward. Not sure that I've got that absolutely right, but the results that you can hear are most entertaining..." (read more)
JP (11 August 1987): "Not overwritten, as most of mine in the past have been, so it's not too embarrassing to read this one, because it is fairly brief and to the point, for once."
  • v/a: Palatine - The Factory Story / 1979-1990 [6]
  • Misunderstood: Before The Dream Faded (CD release of 1982 compilation)
JP (writing as 'John Ravencroft', Kmentertainer, 1966): "Nature is the harmonious combination of all life processes in this dimension, balanced by instinct rather than emotion..." (read more)
JP: "The story of my first meeting with Phil Lynott and the boys aboard a ferry, salt caked smokestacks and the rest, between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead, has been told too many times already. Suffice to say, Thin Lizzy were crossing to England for the first time aboard the same boat as myself, made contact and urged me to listen out for them. ... Throughout the first half of the seventies, they provided a welcome antidote to much of the pretentious hogwash that bedevilled the age ..."
  • Fall: Light User Syndrome
JP: "Waleed lives in Baghdad. He wants to hear The Fall. Penelope is a teacher. She lives in Honey Grove, Texas, and heard The Fall on the BBC World Service. Sebastian works in Hamburg. He's a doctor and roams the internet in search of Fall information. Not all the time, mind. Jeff does the same. He lives in Ipswich and has compiled an authoritative Fall discography. William is my son. He said 'Fall LP's don't really need sleeve notes, Dad'. He's right, of course."
JP: "Right. Let's address the issue without flinching. Are the Cuban Boys fated to be one-hit wonders, no-one remembering their name but able to hum an approximation of their chart biggie, the one that saw out the last century on the wings of song? Never remember the title. 'Irritating' was the word most commonly associated with it though..." (read more)
  • Martin Carthy: Carthy Chronicles: A Journey Through the Folk Revival
  • v/a: Mersey Boys & Liverpool Girls: Sounds of the Mersey 1978-2001 [8]
JP: “Go on then, which came first: the chicken or the egg or the music or the football? To be honest, I suppose it doesn’t matter much; the most important thing being, that as the names of, say, Billy Liddell, Dave Hickson, Jimmy Harrower, Joey Jones, Chris Lawler, and Billy Fury, Gerry & The Pacemakers, the Big Three, the Liverpool Scene, Big In Japan and Echo & The Bunnymen fade (with maximum respect due), until they are remembered only an ancient few, there will always be new musicians and footballers to take their places. Sad perhaps, but kinda good too ...”

Peel Quoted On Sleevenotes

(Liner Notes by Cliff White):
You'll never know how close you came to being briefed about the late lamented Jimmy Reed by A Famous Person. Right here, on this very sleeve. TWICE.
Alas, as is often the case with Famous People, both of them were unavoidably detained at the 11th hour. So you'll just have to make do with a few extracts from my 1964 diary....
A last thought. I owe Jimmy, or you, or myself, at least a quote from one of those Famous People I mentioned at the beginning. This one's not as famous as the other one but who's counting. Come in, John Peel, a man who has always championed and played Jimmy Reed and therefore obviously a man of impeccable taste whose word should be harkened unto. "The thing I've always like about Jimmy's records Cliff, is it's all such great music to fuck to."[4]
True, John, true. But will they stock it in WH Smith's?
(read more)
  • v/a: Real Life Permanent Dreams (A Cornucopia Of British Psychedelia 1965-1970)
(quote from 1968 International Times column, with illustration)
"There are sparrows and fountains and roses in my head. Sometimes I don't have enough time to think of loving you. That is very wrong". [9][10]

Dedications to Peel

  • Dave + Tim With The Downsiders: Joe Collett (7" EP - Sheep) Saydisc 7
"...vague words and sounds heard on John Peel (isn't it time someone wished him a little love?)"[11]
"This record would never have been possible without the encouragement of Frances Line, who produced "The Anthems" as a half-hour broadcast for Radio 1 in August 1968 (thus indirectly sponsoring that much-abused channel's first major serious work) and John Peel who also gave his kind support." (read more)
"This album is for all the people who have been friends - Mike Carrow, John Peel, Phil Ross." (read more)
"Many thanks to John Peel..."
"Sincere thanks to John Peel"
  • Second Coming: The Return E.P. (EP)
"Thanks To John Peel and Janice Long for showing interest."
"Special thanks to John Peel"
"Thanks to John Peel and thinking men and women everywhere."
"Special thanks to... John Peel..."
“GRACIAS” to “mr peel”
"Thanks To John Peel." (printed on the disc itself)
"This song is dedicated to the memory of the late great John Peel 1939-2004 .... without whom."
"the band would like to thank... john peel... (et al)"
"Dedicated to John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, obviously. We miss you so much."
"Dedicated to the memory of John Peel."
"dedicated to john peel"


  1. When Warner Brothers released the album in the US, their ads included the line from JP's sleevenotes "play this record to those you love".
  2. Peel seemed particularly embarrassed by this purple passage, perhaps because Melody Maker writer Christopher Bird had drawn attention to it in his review of the LP - see Melody Maker: 1968: Other Mentions for his comments.
  3. The event appears to have been the Pop and Blues Festival at Notts County Football Ground on 1968-05-10. The bill also included Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and Van der Graaf Generator. See Gigography 1969.
  4. In a message to the Peel Mailing List, Ken Garner reports that the quote on his 1980 pressing of the album includes the word "funk" not "fuck".