I’ve just finished reading the autobiography/biography of John Peel (the reason it is both is because, sadly, John died half way through writing it so it was finished by his wife Sheila, aka The Pig). John had long been one of my heroes. I remember listening to his show on many late nights with friends or cramming for exams.
The thing about Peel was that he would play music no other DJ would play. So he was pioneering, experimental, single-minded, alternative, uncompromising. And because of this he would regularly fall foul of the BBC establishment. But he would often be the first to play stuff which later found a wider audience. And often the first to support new and breaking bands (The Faces, T-Rex, The Undertones, The White Stripes, The Fall, The Bhundu Boys, The Wedding Present et al). He was passionate and evangelical about what he did, and was the unconventional, innovative and progressive face of Radio One and of radio itself. He was an innate part of the capacity of British music to reinvent itself. Every company, every organisation, needs its John Peel.
P.S. My favourite Peel quote is:
"Somebody was trying to tell me that CDs are better than vinyl because they don’t have any surface noise. I said, "Listen, mate, life has surface noise."