John Peel RIP

Jochen Irmler

The Faust Pages, 30 Oct 2004

Sad but true. John Peel has left us.

I remember driving in my car late one night (this must have been in the late 80s) while drowsily twiddling with the dial on the radio when suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere this well-known voice appeared and said something like: "This band comes from Wales and has just released a one-sided single which you can get at [insert address of the tiniest / most obscure label you've ever heard]. And then he played the perfect pop song. And then it was gone. That was John Peel.

If it hadn't been for him, my life would have been different - and I guess this will also be true for the majority of people who read this. John Peel offered artists a platform and gave them a gentle push towards... well, not the road to stardom, he never cared for that I guess, but towards an audience who loved music - and that is the only real thing in the so-called 'music business'.

It's truly a great loss for music lovers everywhere. He championed a lot of great bands, and was influential in helping us to discover different acts that otherwise we might not have heard. I can only offer my most heartfelt condolences to all musically inclined Brits at this tragic loss. From what I've heard and seen of him (I remember first meeting him when Faust were invited to play on Top Of The Pops - or was it Top Gear?), I conclude there will now be a large gap in your radio dial; a gap which will be impossible to fill. It's not just a loss for people working at and listening to the BBC, but for the world at large. All of us who have an interest - if not a passion - in different music probably owe him a tremendous debt. Lots of enthusiasts would not have been introduced to such a wide range of exotic and unusual music. One has to be grateful for a character like Peel, for someone who summoned up the temerity to go his own way and never fall in with the lynching mob. To the music scene in Great Britain, Peel was of greater importance than a lot of 'very famous' musicians.

If you had an artistic vision and weren't out to put a spell on the masses, you could always rely on Peel. He was one of only a handful (and probably even one out of one) and this makes the loss even greater. My deepest sympathy goes to his wife, who has lived for so many years with this unconventional person, which may not always have been easy. I hope that his vision, his purpose in life will live on in at least a few of those who've been listening to him. If this were the case, the world would be a better place.

Sorry for being so emotional John, but I will really miss you. I raise my glass to your memory and fondly remember another thing I heard you say that night in the car radio: " - and that was a bit of the label for you."

Jochen Irmler, "John Peel RIP", The Faust Pages 2004