As a former radio guy myself, I have always had an immense amount of admiration and respect for John Peel. I was saddened when I woke up this morning to the shocking news of his sudden death. His career in radio spanned 40 years, making him BBC Radio 1’s longest running on-air personality. Peel’s radio career actually began back in 1962 in my hometown of Dallas. He migrated back to the UK in 1967 to join the launch of BBC Radio 1. His influence in radio and the music industry was felt quickly, as he was one of the first DJs to spin punk, reggae, and hip-hop before they became mainstream. Peel established himself as a leader of the future of popular music with the creation of his Top Gear show.
His Peel Sessions became an important vehicle for new, cutting edge bands to gain exposure. From Joy Division to the White Stripes, Peel never lost his ability to discover and showcase the finest upcoming artists. Many bands invited to record Peel sessions went on to become quite successful, thanks to Peel’s keen ear for originality and exceptional taste in music.
BBC Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt stated: “John Peel was a broadcasting legend. I am deeply saddened by his death as are all who work at Radio 1. John's influence has towered over the development of popular music for nearly four decades. Hopeful bands all over the world sent their demo tapes to John knowing that he really cared.”
Blur’s frontman Damon Albarn told BBC Online that Peel’s support was “one of the most significant things that happened to us in our careers." He continued, “The world is going to be a poorer place with his sudden departure. I will miss him deeply,"
The veteran British disc jockey and broadcaster was vacationing in Peru when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He passed away at the age of 65. He leaves behind his wife Sheila and his four children. His open-minded approach to new music and care for his fellow musicians and radio listeners made him one of the most important figures in the broadcast industry. Music fans, bands, and broadcast professionals around the world lost a very special friend last night. As Parfitt said in his public statement on the BBC, “John is simply irreplaceable.”