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Sound City was an annual music festival organised and broadcast by BBC Radio One between 1992 and 2003.

Beginning in 1992 in Norwich, the format of Sound City comprised a week of gigs, events and seminars, hosted by a different city each year. Although appearances by national and international bands were a feature of the lineups, an important element of the festival was to publicise the host city's venues and promoters and give exposure to local talent.

Sound City was initially held in April but from 1997 onwards the festival was moved to October. In 2000, the event was rebranded as One Live. There were three “One Live” festivals that year: a mini event held in London over a weekend in April, another small-scale happening in Birmingham in May and then the usual week-long festival in Cardiff in October. 2003's visit to Brighton appears to have been the last such event.

Thereafter, efforts and resources seem to have been concentrated on the smaller but twice yearly One Big Weekend events that commenced with a visit to Manchester in May 2003 [1]. Cardiff was the next host, in September 2003 [2], followed by Londonderry in April 2004 [3], Birmingham in September 2004 [4] and Sunderland in May 2005 [5].

Rebranded as Radio 1's Big Weekend [6], the festival was restored to being an annual event the following year. Dundee was the host in May 2006 [7], followed by Preston (May 2007) [8], Maidstone (May 2008) [9], Swindon (May 2009) [10], Bangor (May 2010) [11], Carlisle (May 2011) [12], Hackney (June 2012) [13], Londonderry (May 2013) [14], Glasgow (May 2014) [15], Norwich (May 2015) [16], Exeter (May 2016) [17] and Hull (May 2017) [18].

Links to Peel

Although there was no broadcast element with the inaugural Sound City in Norwich in 1992, Peel was involved personally. On 21st April, along with son William, he attended the gig at the Waterfront that was broadcast live on Radio One, featuring performances by House of Love, Jacob's Mouse and The Fall. Invited to select a film to be shown during the festival, he picked Richard Lester's 1962 effort It's Trad, Dad! He personally introduced the film before the screening on Thursday 23rd April at Cinema City [1].

Peel had no involvement with Sound City in 1993 or 1994, but he immersed himself in the next event in Bristol in 1995, broadcasting his programmes live from the city and including recorded performances from the festival in his shows [2]. The following year's event in Leeds followed a similar pattern.

For three years from 1997-99, weekday evening coverage of the Sound City events was co-hosted by Steve Lamacq and Peel, with the Evening Session and the John Peel Show running into one four-hour long special [3]. From 2000 onwards, festival content was included within the scheduled John Peel Show in the usual timeslot.

Content In Peel Shows

Sound City

1992
Norwich
  • No broadcast involvement.
1993
Sheffield
  • No known Peel involvement.
1994
Glasgow
  • No known Peel involvement.
1995
Bristol
1996
Leeds
1997
Oxford
1998
Newcastle
1999
Liverpool

One Live

2000
London
Birmingham
Cardiff
2001
London [22]
2001
Birmingham [26]
2002
Nottingham [29]
2003
Brighton [33]

Footnotes

  1. Both the gig and the film were discussed on the programme on 24 April 1992.
  2. The guiding hand of new producer Alison Howe at work here, according to Ken Garner 'The Peel Sessions', p148.
  3. Recordings of these programmes from 1997 and 1998 have yet to surface, but the evidence from 1999 suggests that by that year at least, there was a handover between the two DJs at "half time".
  4. Set began during Steve Lamacq's two hours and over-ran into Peel's allotted slot.
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