Peel joined Radio London on March 8 1967 and worked for the station until its closedown on 14 August 1967. He followed the standard working pattern of two weeks on board ship, followed by a week's shore leave, gradually making a name for himself as the host of late-night shows, initially London After Midnight and, at weekends, the three-hour John Peel Show from 11 p.m. on Saturday night until 2 a.m Sunday morning. These programmes developed into the Perfumed Garden; although no-one knows exactly when the programme's name changed, the most likely dates would seem to be May or June 1967. Apart from a brief extract from a March 1967 show, there are no known available Radio London recordings of Peel from before July 1967.
(from Radio Radio, 1986)
Early in 1967 – I was married at the time to an American girl, and it was a fairly catastrophic marriage, so I decided to get out of the area to the extent of coming back to Britain. And went to live with my mother in Notting Hill. And obviously I had no work, and no expectation of work. And a fellow who was living next to her at the time had dealings with Radio London, the pirate ship, and he said why didn’t I go along and see Alan Keane, who was running the station from the offices in Curzon Street. So I went along. Fortunately, they didn’t ask me to audition. I just said I’d been working on the radio in California and they were sufficiently impressed by this to give me a job. And I was very pleased to get it, because as I said, my marriage was in tatters already and the idea of being on a ship for two weeks out of three seemed to be terribly appealing, because it meant I was away from domestic strife.
So I went out there, and as junior member of the team, I had to do two programmes. I had to do a daytime programme, which was just the regular Radio London fare, you know. They used to play a lot of new records – more new records and more artfully chosen new records. I mean, they weren’t bought on, unlike Caroline. But I also had to do a late night programme, from 12 until 2. And initially I used to just do this as I had done the other programme. I mean, run all the commercials and do the weather and the news and all of the things that I was supposed to do.
Gradually it dawned on me that no one was actually listening to this programme – I mean, no one in the Radio London office, and certainly none of the people on the ship. So I started to improvise a little bit and gradually stopped running the ads and so on, and playing more of this music that I had brought back from America with me. And also adding a British dimension with people like the Incredible String Band and Hendrix and Pink Floyd, I suppose, Tyrannosaurus Rex, all these sort of people. I called the programme the Perfumed Garden..
- Wikipedia: Radio London entry
- Radio London: Big L Fab 40 Charts Index
- The Pirate Radio Hall Of Fame The Radio London Story 1964-1967 in 6 parts, with audio clips. Page 6 is entitled Peel, Pepper and the Final Hour.
- Rose Of Texas: Includes memories of Big L, photos of Galaxy, programme engineers, etc
- Radio London offices (pic)
- Letter to Radio London listener on changing format of his programme https://pompeypop.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/big-l-and-a-sad-anniversary/