Robert (Bob) Leslie Ravenscroft (15 February 1909 - September 1970) was Peel's father, a cotton merchant who owned a mill factory in Merseyside. Peel discussed his relationship with his father considerably in the TV documentary Father And Son and in his autobiography Margrave Of The Marshes.
In the documentary, Peel described not seeing his father for the first 6 years of his life, due to him fighting in North Africa during the war. He first saw his father in Anglesey, where he told his mother, who was this stranger coming home, which his mum burst crying and telling him that this was his father.
Peel described how his father went to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to do business and whether he would take the whole family. By the time, he came back, Peel was put into boarding school at Shrewsbury School.
During the documentary, Peel revealed that his father beat him once compared to his mother who would do regular beatings. He described also how his father lectured him on the importance of regular bowel movements and described it as 'a golden moment of his childhood'.
Throughout the programme, Peel described how he was not close to his father until he got cancer and was bedridden, where the relationship became closer, which he asked himself 'why couldn't it be like this all the time'.
Apart from the relationship discussed in the autobiography, Peel mentioned how his parents divorced whilst studying at boarding school and how his father later married another woman. Later his father arranged with a friend to get him to work in the cotton industry in Rochdale and then in America, where he later changed his profession to being a disc jockey for several radio stations.
Mentioned In Shows
- July 1967 (Radio London): (JP: 'Hello Mum and Dad and all at 24 Jameson Street.')
- 03 April 1980: JP: "My favourite ever Robert was my dad: my second favourite, Robert Wyatt."
- 30 May 1981 (John Walters): "My father objected very strongly to Donegan’s high nasal whine. “Why doesn’t the bugger blow his nose?” he wanted to know. But it was that keening, almost eastern drone that whipped the young Peel into a frenzy. That and the way the great man managed to align the words of songs into an unintelligible scramble. As I devoted many hours to transcribing these words, this gave me as much trouble as it did pleasure, and never more so than during this section of ‘Bring A Little Water, Sylvie’".
- You'll Never Walk Alone(2): Peel mentions his father is buried in Landican Cemetery in Wirrall.
- My Top Ten: "I think it is the kind of system that you either go along with… I mean, a lot of people I know or went to school with are now lord lieutenants of counties - that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you know the sort of thing I mean. Either that or people in a way rebelled slightly against that way or life and are now doing other things – like this, really. Quite clearly, when I first started being a disc jockey in America, my father was not at all pleased. He wasn’t quite sure what he did want me to do, but being a disc jockey was pretty low on his list of priorities."
- 03 June 1985: JP's first show since the events at Heysel the previous week starts on somber note: "Well, hello again, chums. It’s nice to be back. And ever since last Wednesday I’ve been wondering what I’ve been going to say to you tonight, and I’ve decided the best thing is to say nothing. I mean, everybody else has. And the events in Brussels have already been seized upon by a wide range of interests to prove points that they wanted to make. Witness the discussion on Janice’s programme about the licensing laws earlier on tonight. I’ll just say that as a boy I never understood why my dad wouldn’t tell us about his experiences in North Africa and Italy during the war, and now I do..."
- Radio Radio: "I think at some stage I wrote to the BBC. My father warned me against the BBC. He said unless I was a homosexual or a Roman Catholic, I’d never get a job on the station – and as I was neither, it seemed to me that I was rather wasting my time. But I wrote, to Pete Murray I think. He denies that he got the letter and if he had done he would have written back to me – this may be true. But I wrote to Pete Murray anyway and asked him, traditional, how do you get on the radio? And he didn’t write back. So I rather abandoned the idea of getting on the radio because it did seem to be quite impossible, because there were no regional stations of any sort and very few disc jockeys anyway – and probably they weren’t even described as disc jockeys in those days, although they may have been on AFN."
- Peeling Back The Years: "My appreciation of Lonnie Donegan’s work was greatly enhanced by my father. For whatever record I was listening to, he used to come and fling the door open on his return from work and say, “Ah, Lolly Dollygen” – like this. And of course the fact that he called him Lolly Dollygen enraged me, as he must have known it would, and confirmed me in my admiration for the great skiffler."
- 12 February 1988 (BFBS): Duane Eddy And The Rebels: 'Peter Gunn (LP-Especially For You)' (Jamie) (JP:: 'The very best record of all time, as far as I'm concerned. In case it sounded a bit scratchy to you, the reason for that is that it's a bit scratchy because I played it from the LP that I bought when it first came out and used to play it at home, and when it got to...the twangy guitar bit in the middle, I just turned it up, louder and louder and louder as it went on twanging. My dad used to go mad, banging on the wall, either that goes or I go. That's the reason why it sounds very scratchy, but particularly at that point.')
- 23 December 1988 (BFBS): (JP: 'Hilbury Island plays a large part in my domestic mythology because, when my dad was a lad, he tried to swim out to it and strained his heart: not enough to make life difficult for him, but it meant that he couldn't do much by the way of sport and so forth.')
- 07 April 1990 (BFBS): (JP: 'When I was a child, I used to think that my mum and dad were going to spontaneously combust because they drank a great deal and smoked heavily as well.')
- 20 March 1992: On the subject of football: 'It's been a bad week for football, to go briefly back to that, because in midweek I saw Ipswich losing to Watford at Portman Road and then of course there was Liverpool's defeat by Genoa in midweek. My father was a small businessman in Liverpool [and] would never do business with the Italians and I used to think this was an unreasonable attitude to take. Until this week.
- 12 August 1995 (BFBS): Anecdote concerning Peel's father and his visit to see John in North America,where he mentioned picking him up in Quebec, Canada and driving him and his step-mother to America on a road trip, describing his step mother as not likeable and his father not being impressed by his work of place, where he worked as an office boy.
- Travels With My Camera: Autobahn Blues: "They were always really nice to my brother and me, yet there we were in Cheshire while our father was tussling with "the Hun" in North Africa. We were taught to hate Germans – still are by some politicians – but I couldn't really believe in the wickedness of an entire nation. So years ago, when I was asked to do radio programmes here, it seemed like a chance to make a small contribution to a healing process."
- 19 February 1997: (JP: 'Almost everything that I tried to do when I was a child and an adolescent was described by my father as "half-baked," and I'm pleased to have a track called Half Baked to play, but he's not here to hear it.')
- 25 September 1997 (BFBS): (JP: 'I wish I believed in an afterlife, I really do. I mean, I'd be much cheered up at the prospect. Obviously, the older you get, the more you'd like to know that there was one, but I don't really believe in it. And if there was one, I wouldn't be one of those people who wanted to meet Shakespeare, 'cos for a start, you wouldn't understand him, would you? He'd be chatting away, in apparently some kind of rural West Country accent, and saying things. "What? What was that? What are you trying to say, mate?" But what I would like to do is sort out mundane things, like sort out with my dad whether he wanted me or my brother Frank to have that Welsh dresser (Frank got it, needless to say). And also, on a more serious level, to apologise to him for being such a terrible, inconsiderate and selfish son.')
- 08 January 1998 (BFBS): (JP: 'I want you to know that, while that record was playing, I was getting the next record ready and broke my fingernail in the process. And yet, I carry on with the programme: it's a very British thing to do, I think. They get so brittle at this time of year, I find. And because that was a 4'45" long record, I was able to go to what is called in our house Daddy's Room, which is the room in which I do the bulk of my work, and when I got in there, Flossie, 15, was in there looking through my stuff. And she just looked up at me when I went in and said, "Get out of my room!" I just thought to meself, I'd love to have been able to speak to my dad like that.')
- 28 July 1999: Charlie Kunz: 'Kunz Solo Medley: Lovely To Look At / Smoke Gets In Your Eyes / Night & Day' (The Peelenium track was played in memory of Peel's father, who died in 1970 and was a big Charlie Kunz fan)
- 10 October 1999 (BFBS): JP had introduced Lonnie Donegan at the Queen Elizabeth Hall the week before, prompting a series of Donegan-related anecdotes, including one about his father deliberately annoying him by assuming everything JP played was by "Lollie Dolligan."
- 05 July 2001: Charlie Kunz: Piano medley feat. Only You, All I Need Is You, Pennsylvania Polka - Pig's Big 78 (JP: 'He was my dad's favourite artist and that's the first time I've ever played one of his records on the radio.')
- 14 August 2001: (JP: 'Since I stopped playing Ronnie Ronalde records a week or so ago because I thought I'd played you enough for the time being although there is a Christmas LP and tracks from that may crop up when the time is more appropriate. I've been trying to think of somebody else roughly from that same sort of era whose tunes I could play you because I know from the emails that people are quite interested in what Ronnie Ronalde was doing and I was very pleased to hear it again myself. So I thought I'd be grotesquely self-indulgent and play you one or two tracks by my dad's favourite artist, who is a piano player called Charlie Kunz.')
- August 2001 (FSK): Peel mentions his dad's favourite artist was Charlie Kunz and plays a track from him.
- 23 August 2001: Charlie Kunz: 'Love Walked In / So Little Time / Says My Heart' (LP 'The Very Best Of') Prism Leisure (JP: "In case you've forgotten why it is I'm playing these records, it's because Charlie Kunz was my dad's favourite")
- 26 September 2001: Charlie Kunz: Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year/Echo Of A Serenade/San Fernando Valley (LP - The Very Best Of) Prism Leisure (JP: "Grotesque self-indulgence of course, my dad's favourite artist... I was down in a record shop on Oxford Street this afternoon looking at further Charlie Kunz LPs, so there is a possibility that once I've exhausted this LP there'll be more.")
- 05 June 2003: (JP: 'I always feel nostalgic when we play a 78 by the Savoy Hotel Orpheans cos they were me dad's favourites. I never really got on with him...this is not going to turn into a 'Home Truths' moment, but once, when he was just a few months away from dying of cancer, I sat on his bed and we looked through an old photograph album together and roared with laughter the whole time and it was excellent. I thought, "Why can't it be like this all the time?"')
- Chain Reaction: John Peel Interviews Ian Rush (Transcript): (JP: "My name is John Peel and since I was about seven or eight years old I’ve been a Liverpool supporter. And meet lots of Liverpool supporters who have never been to Liverpool and probably couldn’t find it on the map. But my dad worked there, the family business was there, and I worked there briefly myself, and lived just across the river.")
- Interview: On Liverpool FC, Heysel, Hillsborough: "I mean, people in Liverpool didn’t think of me as being a Liverpool person at all, but I thought of myself as being a Liverpool person because that’s where I like to be and that's where I worked and that’s where my father worked, and my mother and father both came from there, and so on. So I thought of myself as a Liverpudlian."