Links To Peel
Peel relates in Margrave Of The Marshes that he had his first pint of beer as a schoolboy, buying it with the change from a book token he had won in an essay competition at Shrewsbury School. Later he would visit pubs in the town with a school friend and said he had no problems in being served, even if he and his friend were underage, but at that time he didn't drink to excess. His parents were both "middle-class drinkers", as he mentioned in interviews, so to some extent he followed in their footsteps.
On his 05 November 2002 show he said he had the occasional beer whilst living in Texas in the early 60's, although in other interviews he claimed to have been drinking heavily at that stage of his life, and Sheila Ravenscroft confirms this in Margrave Of The Marshes (p.271), saying that he "went through a stage of getting smashed on bourbon every night when he was in America" and that his distaste for drink in the late 1960s was a result of "having resolved to clean himself up". By the time he met Sheila, Peel was known to have stopped drinking alcohol. In an International Times column in March 1968 he contrasted the police's harassment of hippies with their tolerance of public drunkenness:
Sympathies and my love to all those humiliated during and following the recent raid on the Middle Earth..... if you go out and get drunk, puke and urinate in the tubes and harass other and sober citizens, well, that's just comic old British behaviour, go to it freely
On the show of 11 August 1968 he voiced a distaste for beer and drinking in hippyish terms ("a drag") when he played Jerry Lee Lewis's single of "What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me)", a song which took its title from an advertising slogan for Schlitz beer (and was later recorded by Rod Stewart) . He remained wary of drink until he went to see The Faces in 1970 at a gig.
In an interview with John Walters for the Peeling Back The Years radio series, he mentioned The Faces offering him a drink and when he saw them disappearing into the dressing room with scantily clad women and hearing breaking glasses and curries being flung against walls, he thought to himself, "Actually, these people are having a much better time than I am." In Margrave Of The Marshes (p.271) Sheila Ravenscroft writes: "The Faces can claim joint credit, together with John Walters and myself, for getting John back into drinking again".
From the 1970's until his death in 2004, Peel would often drink red wine, but on occasions did mention enjoying drinking beers, sometimes in the company of his producer John Walters who was known to enjoy a drink. (The rider for his live DJ gigs mentioned that he would expect to receive a few beers and a vegetarian meal.) Once he had moved from London to Suffolk, Peel grew to like visiting pubs, but when he was diagnosed with diabetes, he was advised to stop drinking beer. Andy Kershaw met Peel for the final time, shortly before the DJ's death, and commented that he was shocked at Peel's appearance and worried that JP's consumption of red wine was damaging his health.