John Peel Wiki
The Who.jpg
"Have been one of my favourite groups for years..."
John Peel, Disc & Music Echo, 1968-11-02

The Who were among the very biggest names in rock music in the late 1960s and 1970s, with a line-up of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. They came to fame in the mid-1960s, were associated with the Mod movement and were one of the first groups to experiment with sound, using feedback and pure noise in tracks like "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere". They also experimented with longer forms, as in the "mini-opera" which was the title track of their 1966 LP A Quick One and led to the full-scale rock opera Tommy (1969).

They made the transition into the psychedelic era; Townshend was one of the first pop stars to be interviewed by International Times in February 1967 and became a regular visitor to London's UFO club. The Who won a new audience with their dynamic performances at festivals like Monterey (1967), Woodstock (1969) and the Isle of Wight (1969, 1970), becoming one of the most popular live acts of the 1970s and beyond. Even in the changed musical landscape after 1976, their 1965 "My Generation" anthem continued to find a place in the Festive Fifty, while a new generation of musicians such as The Jam paid their respects and the release of the film version of Quadrophenia sparked something of a mod revival. In 1982, the band's 1967 single "I Can See For Miles" inspired Colin Miles and Mark Rye to name their newly-founded label, dedicated to reissuing material from the 1950s, '60s and '70s, See For Miles Records.

Links To Peel

Peel was aware of the Who when he was living in the USA and working for radio station KMEN in San Bernardino, California. He personally compiled the station's British chart, including records he liked; the EP Ready, Steady, Who appears in the chart dated 2 December 1966. In his The British Scene column in the 10 December 1966 issue of the station newspaper, The Kmentertainer, Peel (as John Ravencroft) wrote: "Controversy continues to hang limply around the shoulder of the Who, whose auto-destructive stage shows. which involve the destruction of guitars and amplifiers, and anything else in the immediate area, have irked those who can't afford to follow their example...". Two weeks later, in the Christmas edition of his column, he enthused over the band's new LP, A Quick One: "Everything about the new L.P. by the Who is outstanding achievement for the group. It captures their cynicism ,violence and humor."

After returning to Britain, he played tracks from the LP on the Perfumed Garden, including "Run, Run, Run" which can be found on the final PG of 14 August 1967. The DJ also played the single of two Rolling Stones songs, "Under My Thumb/The Last Time", which the Who recorded and released in July 1967 as a gesture of support for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who had just received prison sentences (later to be overturned) for drug possession. He continued to play the group's records as they appeared, interviewing the band for Dutch TV when The Who Sell Out was due to be released, in October 1967 (see below), and describing the newly-issued Tommy on the "son of Night Ride" show of 07 May 1969 as "the best LP since Sergeant Pepper".

The band's drummer, Keith Moon, sat in for Peel for the second hour of the DJ's Tuesday slot with A Touch Of The Moon, produced by John Walters, for four shows between 21 August 1973 and 11 September 1973. In 1976 Peel narrated a TV advert promoting The Who's album The Story Of The Who and in 2000 narrated the TV documentary The Real ... Keith Moon. Moon guested on the first of Peel's late-night programmes, following the demise of Top Gear (see below); the DJ previewed the drummer's appearance on the final Top Gear, saying that John Entwistle would guest on the second show, "if there's anything left of the studio" after Moon's visit.

The Who are mentioned three times in Peel's autobiography, Margrave Of The Marshes, completed by this wife Sheila:

  • {pg 102): I can remember one night when I couldn't sleep because John was downstairs with Marc Bolan and they were playing an advance copy of Tommy by The Who over and over again with the volume cranked up.
  • (pg 193): We took a driving holiday in Europe in summer 1969, accompanied by John's brother Alan, blasting out The Who and Leonard Cohen and Captain Beefheart on the superb eight-track cartridge system in the Dormobile.
  • (pg 199): There was a similar incident at a gig in Birmingham with The Who, where Keith Moon collapsed at his drumkit. John helped to drag him off stage, where he was roused with a bucket of cold water in the face before being carried past me and plonked behind his kit again. (This appears to have taken place at a gig in Mothers on 1969-07-19. See also Gigography 1969.)

The band also crop up in Olivetti Chronicles, a collection of Peel's journalism:

  • (pg 205) Sounds 1973-12-01: From here the debate moved onto weightier matters and I found myself trying to explain why I like the Faces, the Floyd and The Who, but not ELP, Yes and Focus.
  • (pg 297-8) Sounds 1975-04-05: Peel describes at great length the premiere of the film Tommy before concluding, "Oh, alright then. I wasn't invited."
  • (pg13) Sounds 1976-08-14: reference to a retrospective on the band (see below, Other Shows Played).
  • (pg 72) The Listener 1976-04-22: Although I have a lot of time for them myself - after all, I grew up with them - I am astounded that such ageing combos as The Who, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Pink Floyd still dominate the romping and stomping field.

The Complete Chronicle Of The Who (Andrew Neill & Matthew Kent) contains four entries that mention Peel:

  • 1967-10-21: Around this time, Pete (Townshend) played an acetate of a rough mix of "Armenia City In The Sky" to Radio 1 DJ John Peel while being interviewed for Dutch television at Track's Old Compton Street office. Townshend displayed the proposed artwork for The Who Sell Out and discussed the album's thematic advertising link, as well as the difference between selling records and playing concerts. This "John Peel Special Report" appeared in Vjoew, transmitted Monday 30th October, 7:03-7:55 pm on Nederland 2. (Part of this footage may have been used in the band's Amazing Journey documentary).
  • 1969-01-22: On the 22nd, a nine minute interview for Dutch television by John Peel, filmed at Regents Park Zoo (date unknown), was screened on Later, 7:13-7:55 pm on Nederland 2. "We were told that the Dutch can't say 'Who', so could we say 'Woo!' " Peel explained. " 'Tell me, Pete, what are the plans for The Woo?!' 'Well, John, The Woo aren't merely a singles group and I'm working on a rock opera especially for The Woo!' 'A Woo opera, eh Pete? Strong stuff,' and so on.
  • 1975-03-07: At Broadcasting House, London, Pete recorded an interview with John Peel, previewing the Tommy soundtrack for a two and a half Radio 1 Rock Week special, broadcast 5:00-7:30 pm the following day.
  • 1975-10-01/02: Keith (Moon) and John (Entwistle) appeared on respective nights as guests on John Peel's new Radio 1 programme, broadcast 11:00-12:00 pm, previewing a side each of The Who By Numbers. Neither of them had heard the final mixes. "This will be as much of a surprise for me as it will be for you," said Keith, confessing he hadn't heard most of the vocals.

After Peel's death, the band's singer, Roger Daltrey, would appear on John Peel's Record Box.

Festive Fifty Entries


The band released a BBC Sessions collection, which contains several of the tracks below, although it is largely drawn from the pre-1967 period before the launch of Radio One, when Peel joined the BBC.

1. Recorded: 1967-10-10. First broadcast: 15 October 1967 (Top Gear compered by Pete Drummond & Tommy Vance)

  • Pictures Of Lily / Our Love Was / I Can See For Miles / I Can't Reach You / A Quick One While He's Away / Jingles (Top Gear #1, Top Gear #2, Radio 1 #1, Radio 1 #2) / Happy Jack / Jingle (& See My Way, Someone's Coming)

Other Shows Played

The list below was researched only from the database of this site, with only limited tracklistings available for the band's peak period. Please add further information if known.

KMEN British Pop Top Ten
  • 08 Apr 1966: Substitute (10)
  • 15 Apr 1966: Substitute (10)
  • 22 Apr 1966: Substitute (8)
  • 29 Apr 1966: Substitute (4)
  • 06 May 1966: Substitute (5)
  • 13 May 1966: Substitute (9)
  • 20 May 1966: Substitute (8)
  • 27 May 1966: Substitute (7)
  • 09 Sep 1966: I'm A Boy (10)
  • 16 Sep 1966: I'm A Boy (10)
  • 23 Sep 1966: I'm A Boy (8)
  • 30 Sep 1966: I'm A Boy (4)
  • 07 Oct 1966: I'm A Boy (2)
  • 14 Oct 1966: I'm A Boy (1)
  • 21 Oct 1966: I'm A Boy (1)
  • 28 Oct 1966: I'm A Boy (1)
  • 04 Nov 1966: I'm A Boy (3)
  • 11 Nov 1966: I'm A Boy (4)
  • 25 Nov 1966: Ready, Steady, Who E.P. (9)
  • 02 Dec 1966: Ready, Steady, Who E.P. (7)
  • 10 Dec 1966: Ready, Steady, Who E.P. (8)
  • 17 Dec 1966: Ready, Steady, Who E.P. (10)
  • 24 Dec 1966: Ready, Steady, Who E.P. (10)
  • 31 Dec 1966: Happy Jack (9)
  • 07 Jan 1967: Happy Jack (7)
  • 14 Jan 1967: Happy Jack (7)
  • 21 Jan 1967: Happy Jack (7)
  • 28 Jan 1967: Happy Jack (5)
  • 11 Feb 1967: Happy Jack (1)
  • 18 Feb 1967: Happy Jack (1)
Roger Daltrey
Pete Townshend
Keith Moon
John Entwistle
High Numbers
  • J P D13: I'm The Face (7" - Zoot Suit) Fontana TF 480


Peel played many covers of Who songs by other artists, most notably those featured during “Tommy (In Seven Minutes)” on the Dumbrock Vol 5 7”, which he played on 01 January 1994. The following list is compiled only from the Cover Versions page of this site. Please add more information if known.

Covering Artist | Song | First Known Play

See Also

External Links