"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.)
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.
List Of People Commemorated By Peel
- Rick Aitken: guitarist with A Witness (October 1989). 17 October 1989, 'Zip Up' (from One Foot In The Groove 12").
- Jeff Astle: famed West Bromwich Albion centre forward (19 January 2002). 22 January 2002, 'Sweet Water'.
- Chet Baker: Jazz trumpeter (13 May 1988). 16 May 1988, 'My Funny Valentine'.
- Cab Calloway: American bandleader and singer (18 November 1994). 03 December 1994 (BFBS), 'Aw, You Dog!'
- Ray Charles: soul music pioneer (10 June 2004). 10 June 2004, 'Take These Chains From My Heart' (from Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music Volume Two).
- Kurt Cobain: lead singer and guitarist with Nirvana (c. 5 April 1994). 22 April 1994, all three Nirvana Peel Sessions back to back.
- Arnett Cobb: American jazz tenor saxophonist (24 March 1989). 28 March 1989, Arnett Blows For 1300.
- Ken Colyer: English jazz trumpeter and cornetist (08 March 1988). 14 March 1988, Goin' Home and Home Sweet Home.
- Nyna Crawford: lead singer of late Seventies US punk band VKTMS. 06 June 2000, 'Hard-Case' from Midget EP.
- Ian Curtis: lead singer of Joy Division (18 May 1980). 19 May 1980, 'New Dawn Fades' (from Unknown Pleasures).
- Bobby Day: American rock and roll singer (27 July 1990). 01 August 1990, 'Rockin' Robin' (US radio first play from Cruisin' 1958 LP)
- Sandy Denny: singer and songwriter with Fairport Convention, amongst others (21 April 1978). 21 April 1978, unknown tracks by Fairport and Fotheringay.
- 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).
- Betty Everett: American Soul singer and pianist (19 August 2001). 23 August 2001, 'Chained To A Memory'.
- John Fahey: American guitarist (22 February 2001). 22 February 2001, 'Sail Away Ladies' (from The Great San Bernadino Birthday Party). 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'.
- Tim Hardin: US folk musician (29 December 1980). 12 January 1981: 'Reason To Believe'.
- 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).
- Bobby Hatfield: US singer, member of the Righteous Brothers (5 November 2003). 06 November 2003: 'Try To Find Another Man'.
- Al Hibbler: American baritone vocalist (24 April 2001). 01 May 2001, 'Don't Get Around Much Anymore' (with Duke Ellington).
- Adrian Henri: poet, member of The Liverpool Scene (21 December 2000). 21 December 2000, Adrian Henri's Last Will And Testament (from The Incredible New Liverpool Scene LP).
- Hillsborough Stadium: 96 Liverpool fans died in a human crush on 15 April 1989. 17 April 1989 (first programme following tragedy) and 15 April 1999 (tenth anniversary), Aretha Franklin's version of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
- John Lee Hooker: influential American blues singer and guitar player (21 June 2001). 26 June 2001, 'Numbers Blues' (which Peel claimed he had programmed in any case).
- Lightnin' Hopkins: American blues singer and guitarist (30 January 1982). 01 February 1982, 'Backwater Blues'.
- Jo-Ann Kelly: English Blues singer and guitarist (21 October 1990). 27 October 1990, 'Louisiana Blues'.
- Billy Mackenzie: lead singer with the Associates (22 January 1997). 02 February 1997, Associates, 'Even Dogs In The Wild' (from The Affectionate Punch).
- Harold Macmillan: former Prime Minister (29 December 1986). Minutes before Peel was due to start the penultimate round of the Festive Fifty, the 29 December 1986 programme was interrupted by a newsflash announcing the death aged 92 of Lord Stockton. As Harold Macmillan he had been Conservative Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963, but he had been a recent critic of various policies operated by the Thatcher government. When the newsflash ended Peel played John Fahey's "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" but made no direct reference to Macmillan.
- Bob Marley: singer, songwriter and guitarist with the Wailers (11 May 1981). 11 May 1981, 'Exodus' (from Exodus).
- Henry Mancini: American composer known for film and TV scores (14 June 1994). (17 June 1994, 25 June 1994 (BFBS), Duane Eddy's Peter Gunn.
- John McGeoch: guitarist with Magazine and Siouxsie & The Banshees (04 March 2004). 16 March 2004, Magazine's 'A Song From Under The Floorboards.'
- Freddie Mercury: lead vocalist with Queen (24 November 1991). 24 November 1991, Crazy Little Thing Called Love (from The Game). Played without comment after news bulletin announcing Mercury's death.
- Ella Mae Morse: American singer (16 October 1999). 03 November 1999, 'Blacksmith Blues' (with Freddie Slack).
- Charlie Ondras: drummer of Unsane (22 June 1992). 11 July 1992, Unsane first session.
- Roy Orbison: American singer (6 December 1988). 07 December 1988, You Got It (7").
- Malcolm Owen: lead singer of the Ruts (14 July 1980). 22 July 1980, all three Ruts sessions.
- Augustus Pablo: reggae producer, melodica/keyboards player (18 May 1999). 15 June 1999, 'Cinderella In Black'.
- Robert Palmer: Singer, songwriter (26 September 2003). 30 September 2003, 'Sailing Shoes'.
- Charlie Rich: rockabilly/C&W singer, originally signed to the same label as Elvis Presley (25 July 1995). 28 July 1995: 'Lonely Weekends'.
- Tim Rose: American singer-songwriter (24 September 2002). 08 October 2002: 'Morning Dew'.
- Will Sinnott: bass player with the Shamen (23 May 1991). 01 June 1991, Peel Session #4.
- Alexander Spence: guitarist with Moby Grape (16 April 1999). April 1999 (FSK), 'Omaha'.
- Viv Stanshall: leader of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and creator of Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (5 March 1995). 10 March 1995, Peel Session #7.
- Stanley Unwin: British comedian (12 January 2002). 16 January 2002, Small Faces' 'Happydaystoytown' (from Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake).
- John Walters: long time Peel show and session producer (30 July 2001). 31 July 2001, Roy Harper's 'When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease' (from HQ). 
- Teddy Warrick: member of BBC management who championed the Peel shows for many years (15 December 1999). 16 December 1999, King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, 'Don't You Think I Love You.'
- Delroy Wilson: Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae singer (6 March 1995). 24 March 1995, 'Put Yourself In My Place'.
- Wolfman Jack: American radio DJ (1 July 1995). 07 July 1995. Clip of show from radio station XERB.
- Bob Wooler: DJ at Liverpool's Cavern Club (8 February 2002). 12 February 2002, Marauders' 'Dr Feelgood' (from At The Cavern).
- Paul Young(2): Not 80s solo hitmaker but singer with Sad Café and Mike + The Mechanics (15 July 2000). 20 July 2000. Toggery Five singles 'I'm Gonna Jump' and 'I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys'.
- 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.)