The International Times, often referred to as IT so as to avoid confusion with The Times, was the best-known and longest-lasting of London's "underground" publications. Founded in late 1966, its fame and circulation grew in the early months of 1967, with its content reflecting the interests of the nascent underground scene - including pop music. The early issues featured interviews with the likes of Paul McCartney (a personal friend of IT co-founder Barry Miles, he gave financial support to the paper), George Harrison, Pete Townshend and Graham Nash.
IT was mentioned frequently by Peel during the Perfumed Garden era, and occasionally in his early BBC programmes. He had been involved in the Californian hippy scene in the final year of his American career and discovered the emerging London underground on his return. His early contacts included Mick Farren, activist, musician and IT contributor, with whom he corresponded, reading out extracts from Farren's letters on the Perfumed Garden.
Following the demise of Radio London, the DJ contributed a Perfumed Garden column and often appeared elsewhere in IT's pages. His columns ran from August 1967 to mid-1969, the most stable period in IT's turbulent history, but when in 1969 the financially struggling paper introduced its own "music supplement", with features, interviews, reviews and record company ads, his contributions became less frequent and eventually ceased.
His name continued to feature in IT, both in the listings section (he compered numerous underground benefits at the time) and in the music supplement, which supported him when the BBC moved his programmes to less convenient broadcast times; but by mid-1970 both the music and listings sections had been greatly reduced. IT, raided by the police and facing an obscenity trial, was in serious financial trouble and losing readers to emerging publications like Time Out and Rolling Stone. Mentions of Peel also became infrequent; he reduced his commitment to the underground and became increasingly suspicious of its leaders as the scene descended into factionalism.
Looking back on IT's heyday, Barry Miles wrote:
John began to write a regular Perfumed Garden column for IT, beginning in issue 19, of 5 October 1967, which, considering how busy he was and the fact that he wasn't paid, showed a strong commitment to the cause..... John wrote many thousands of words for IT, embodying the most consistent and genuine belief in the idea of love and peace of all IT's writers, often appearing surrounded by more strident voices where he was an island of calm.(in: London Calling; A Countercultural History of London since 1945, Atlantic Books, 2010, p.264)
Links are provided on the pages below for Peel-related pages in the online IT archive, with the aim of providing a full index in date order:
- International Times: Perfumed Garden Column
- International Times: Gig Listings
- International Times: Other Mentions