I met John Peel at a Sheffield Radio 1 roadshow back in 1981, it was my first and only time - my band (The Danse Society, shown left) were on the bill and we played to a packed house at Sheffield University. I remember it being a good gig and exchanging a few words with the uber laid back icon thanking him for playing our first self-financed single called ‘Clock’ on his show. He was bemused at our adoration but super cool with it.
It shouldn’t be understated what an influence John Peel (seen below) was at that time – the only place to hear interesting new and alternative music was John Peel’s week-nightly show on Radio 1, broadcast between 10-12pm. There were no music television shows other than ‘Top of the Pops’ which of course only played chart music. To find anything new and alternative you had to listen to the radio and by far the most popular and listened to was the John Peel Show.
Shortly after he invited us to London to record a ‘John Peel Session’ – 4 songs recorded in a day at the legendary Maida Vale studios – I was hoping to meet Mr Peel again but of course he wasn’t there just Dale Griffen (the producer) who turned out to be ‘Mott the Hoople’s’ drummer – although we didn’t know that at the time. We were extremely excited at the prospect and knew that this would propel us to the next level. In the Indie world this was the gold medal. It was well received and he repeated it more than once.
By the time he had broadcast our second John Peel session we were building momentum in the independent charts and were on the verge of getting signed, by that time we were one of many bands that John Peel would play on a regular basis which no doubt helped our popularity grow immensely.
So my dalliance with fame was partly due to Mr Peel – and for that I am eternally grateful. His death for me was a sad loss to the spirit of new music and undiscovered charms, as well as a personal one for all the help he gave my band in getting out of the pit town of Barnsley and showing us the possibilities that lie beyond.
John Peel day is celebrated all over the country and this year at the Imperial in Filey on the 19th November 2016 (shown on Google Maps Below) you can see many new and old bands celebrating his memory and life (including me). To find out more check out the Keeping it Peel blog.