"I prefer to remember those who have died, whether relatives, friends, rock stars or a combination of the three, in their proper context, filling some
greater or lesser niche in everyday life, rather than distorting my memory of them in a welter of terminal sentiment.. This is why we never did anything extreme when Jim Morrison or Paul Kossoff died, not even when Hendrix died. We (John Walters and I, that is) still play their records on air from time to time - always will, I hope, thinking of them in the same way that I sometimes think of my Dad." (Peel quoted, presumably from his diaries, by Sheila in Margrave Of The Marshes, Bantam Press, 2005, p. 371.)
Nevertheless, despite his assertion above, and, for example, his neglecting to broadcast anything by Elvis Presley on the occasion of his death on 16 August 1977, John did on occasion play music on his show or give memorial in print when a significant figure in his life passed away. This page is intended to be an overview of the ways in which John Peel commemorated the deaths of people connected to his programmes in some way, whether they were performers he played or admired, or who had worked with him or known him in some capacity. Date of decease is given after the artist name, followed by the music played in tribute. Please fill in any unknown or missing details.
Lonnie Donegan: skiffle musician (3 November 2002). 05 November 2002, 'Ham And Eggs' (from More Than Pie In The Sky Vol. 2), and others in subsequent shows.
John Doonan: Irish piccolo musician (March 2002). 11 April 2002, 'The Ace And Deuce Of Piping' (from Flute For The Feis).
John Fahey: American guitarist (22 February 2001). 22 February 2001, 'Sail Away Ladies' (from The Great San Bernadino BirthdayParty). Peel had already paid tribute to Fahey on 31 March 1986, after hearing a false rumour that the guitarist had died in the previous year.
Slim Gaillard: American jazz singer and musician (26 February 1991). 02 March 1991: 'Avacado Seed Soup Symphony Part 1' and (with Dream Warriors) 'Easy To Assemble But Hard To Take Apart'
Rosco Gordon: US blues / R&B singer and songwriter, said to have been historically influential in the development of Reggae (11 July 2002). 20 August 2002: No More Doggin'.
Phil Harris: US singer, actor, comedian (11 August 1995). 18 August 1995. 'The Thing' (originally given to Peel by grandfather as a 78, later a Peelenium selection for 1950).
Bob Wooler: DJ at Liverpool's Cavern Club (8 February 2002). 12 February 2002, Marauders' 'Dr Feelgood' (from At The Cavern).
Frank Zappa: Died 4 December 1993. 10 December 1993. "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here", "Love of My Life", "Peaches en Regalia", "Dancin' Fool". In Peel's words, "four tracks chosen almost at random from (his) catalogue".
Memorials In Print
Adrian Henri (of The Liverpool Scene): Not for the first time, my new year's resolution is to make more of a fuss of our friends. ... Our paths had first crossed shortly after I started reading Adrian's poetry, along with that of his fellow Liverpool-based poets, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, on the pirate station, Radio London. I read it all extremely poorly but they were all too kind to laugh out loud. ... As I said, we should make a fuss of our friends. (Radio Times, 10-16 January 2001, reprinted in Olivetti Chronicles, Bantam Press, 2008, p. 114-6, also available online)
Viv Stanshall: I admired Viv's wit, imagination and lunatic sang-froid so much there were times when I would have wished to be him. ... He was, on his day, the funniest man in Britain. ... He was a great man and it has been our good fortune to catch some of the echoes of this greatness. (The Guardian, 1995-03-11, reprinted in Olivetti Chronicles, Bantam Press, 2008, p. 284-5, also available online)
John Walters: "I owe Walters more than I owe any other person in my life. He taught me that there was nothing shameful in getting things wrong from time to time, provided you remained true to some sort of ill-defined but genuinely held principles - and popped around the corner for a beer if time permitted. Whenever I have received an honorary degree or similar tribute, I have known that no more than a third of it was really mine, with a third going to Walters and a third to Sheila, my wife. Today I feel as infantrymen in the trenches must have felt when the man beside them was hit." (Radio Times, 11-17 August 2001, reprinted in Olivetti Chronicles, Bantam Press, 2008, p. 445-6.)
↑Although this play of the song at the end of the show is well-documented, it is little mentioned that Peel also played Ken Colyer's 'If I Ever Cease To Love' at the start, remembering that he and Walters had once both bought the same record.