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This page lists articles and other mentions of John Peel in Melody Maker in 1968, the year when the DJ established himself on Radio One and became a fashionable figure. Supported and encouraged by Radio One controller Robin Scott, he became sole presenter of Top Gear in February and began his adventurous Night Ride series in March. He also wrote influential columns for International Times and Disc & Music Echo, contributed to the BBC weekly the Listener, and was profiled in articles in serious newspapers, where he was regarded as an intelligent alternative to the typical pop DJs of Radio One. In 1968 Peel and his programmes were popular with MM's readers; the paper was the only pop weekly to provide in-depth coverage of the new artists and musical styles featured in Peel's shows. 1968 was also the year of the British blues boom and this was reflected in both Peel's playlists and the pages of MM, due to the paper's long tradition of covering both blues and jazz.

JP was voted top DJ in the paper's 1968 Pop Poll and MM readers chose Top Gear as the best radio show. MM published a number of articles on Peel during the year, and there were frequent mentions of him in the paper. Its letters page, "Mailbag", often published letters from both fans of his programmes and detractors; apparently he was mentioned more often in readers' letters than any other artist or DJ. After 1968, Peel became less fashionable for a number of reasons; the BBC moved Top Gear to a less convenient time slot and ended his stint on Night Ride, other DJs such as Pete Drummond and Bob Harris began to present programmes of what the BBC called "progressive pop", and Peel himself didn't enjoy being constantly in the media spotlight. But the list below gives insights into the music scene of the time, and to audience reactions to JP at the height of his fame.

Online articles on Peel

  • March 30: Blind Date
  • July 27: "The Underground - "It is like a woman who is endlessly pregnant and never has a baby" - John Peel, and contact with the mystery people" Peel is critical of the underground scene; "The Underground should be showing an alternative, but we have no alternative...." (read more)
  • September 21: "John Peel - A Victory For The Music". "The success of John Peel in being voted Britain's number one Disc Jockey is a victory for all those who believe that pop music is something more than pleasant background music...Probably more letters to Melody Maker mention Peel than any other artsit or deejay" (read more)
  • September 28: New Blind Date
  • November 23: "A Day In The Life Of John Peel". "Every Sunday at 3 p.m. an estimated two million listeners tune into Radio One to hear Top Gear....It is probably one of the most popular all-music programmes on Radio One, certainly as far as MM readers are concerned, for this year it was voted the top radio show in the 1968 Melody Maker Pop Poll, with Peel as the top deejay" (read more)

Other mentions

  • February 10 Mailbag - readers' letters: "It is said that the most common mistake made by would-be deejays is repetition. Yet every week on Radio One's Top Gear, John Peel, while playing great material by groups like Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and the Chicken Shack, gets on my nerves with his repetition of the word "nice""...[1]
  • February 17 From The Raver column: "We gather John Peel likes Tyrannosaurus Rex"[2]
  • February 17 Mailbag - readers' letters; "BBC's Radio One has recently received adverse criticism, However, one show shines through. Top Gear is always alive and progressive and John Peel is the only deejay with real knowledge and understanding of the type of music he presents...."[3]
  • February 24: Focus On Folk, Folk News section by Karl Dallas: "By the way, Pentangle were beautiful, as John Peel would say, on Top Gear last Sunday. Come to think of it, I think he did say it."[4]
  • February 24: Mailbag - readers' letters: "Why pick on Peel?", one letter supporting Peel, one attacking him ("The bulk of Mr. Peel's Sunday afternoon show consists of the most unmusical releases of the week....").[5]
  • March 2: "Radio One - Swinging Or Just Plain Square?" Interview with Radio One "chief" Robin Scott. Asked about JP, he previews Night Ride ("different from Top Gear") and says "I have a great respect for him - and that's why I put him on. He is one of the few people who can communicate and generate an interest in a wide range of subjects from progressive pop to modern poetry"[6]
  • March 9: Mailbag - readers' letters: "The case for and against John Peel" [7]
  • March 16 "Once again - is it folk?" Karl Dallas interviews the Incredible String Band. "I went down to the BBC's Aeolian Hall to talk to them, after they had finished recording a John Peel Night Ride appearance....compared with the average Radio One definition of folk one can only be glad they are getting an airing with John Peel."[8]
  • March 30: Full-page review of Donovan's Royal Albert Hall concert by Bob Dawbarn: "Compere John Peel looked happy, possibly because Tyrannosaurus Rex had shared the first half."[9]
  • March 30: The Raver column: "Deejay John Peel is planning a radio programme on suggestive lyrics in pop songs and hopes to get Cliff Richard, Mick Jagger and Mick Farron [sic], of the Social Deviants, to take part" (Link as above)
  • April 20: Mailbag - readers' letters; "We were absolutely disgusted to read Bob Brown's letter (MM April 6) describing Captain Beefheart as tripe.....Long live Beefheart and John Peel".[10]
  • April 27: Chris Welch reviews new singles: "Tyrannosaurus Rex: Deborah (Regal Zonophone): Marc Bolan has been around some time, recording infrequently, but always producing interesting sounds....Now Marc is receiving a measure of recognition with the aid of his bongo playing mate and deejay John Peel..."[11]
  • April 27 Focus On Folk by Karl Dallas: "I don't know if John Peel has difficulty saying the name of John Renbourn's new LP for Transatlantic, SirJohnalotofMerrieEnglandesmisicthyngeandyeGreneKnyghtte...John also appears on another new Transatlantic LP, "Pentangle", due on May 17 with notes by the lovely and loving Mr. Peel" (link as above)
  • May 4: Focus On Folk by Karl Dallas: "After their appearance in the big concert at the Albert Hall next Wednesday, Shirley and Dolly Collins will appear in John Peel's Night Ride show. Peel is presenting some very nice folk-flavoured stuff on both his weekly programmes. The Pentangle on Top Gear last Sunday were superb."[12]
  • May 18: "Pink Floyd Work On A New Art Form - Tony Wilson Reports". "Now the Floyd have approached the public body of the Arts Council for a grant in the region of £5,000 to finance another project combining a number of the arts. Says Roger (Waters): "It would be a story, using other groups, written as a saga, like the Iliad....There would probably be a narrator, possibly John Peel..."[13]
  • May 18 "Mick Jagger Today" interview. "I don't listen to the radio at home, although I do in the car...Mind you, there are things I like on Radio One, John Peel for example. And that guy who does the blues programme, Mike Raven..." (link as above)
  • May 25 "Marc Bolan - The Man Behind Tyrannosaurus Rex by Chris Welch; "...John Peel played a record called "Hippy Gumbo" I made two years before on Perfumed Garden. I went to meet John and we started doing things at London's Middle Earth for two pounds ten a gig. Then we did Top Gear and we got lots of nice letters...". [14]
  • June 1 Focus on Folk: jazz writer Christopher Bird reviews Pentangle's first album, and criticises Peel's sleevenotes; "Oh yes, and it would have been much better if John Peel had told us who freaks when on the instrumental passages in "Pentangling" and "Waltz". I mean, we haven't all been "squatting, swollen-eyed and morning-mouthed outside garish Wlison Picketted shop windows" waiting for the record to come out...."[15]
  • June 15: Singles reviewed by Bob Dawbarn. Spooky Tooth: "Love Really Changed Me"; "...I wish it luck and lots of plugs. John Peel will play it anyway."[16]
  • June 15: Mailbag - readers' letters: "I'm sick and tired of John Peel playing Tyrannosaurus Rex every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon...." (link as above)
  • June 22: The Raver column: "Nice's "America" is a seven-minute sensation. John Peel - please help."[17]
  • June 29: "No Peel for Marmalade" - interview by Chris Welch. They complain that Peel doesn't like them.and won't play their records ("Maybe we're not beautiful enough") [18]
  • July 6: Front page item with Peel picture from Perfumed Garden era: "John Peel, Radio One deejay of Top Gear fame, is the latest attraction to be added to the all-star bill appearing at this weekend's mammoth Melody Maker Woburn Festival. John will be compering the Sunday Afternoon With Donovan (2.30 to 5.30 p.m.)"[19]
  • July 6: Small ads: "The Ellis-Wright Agency solely represent Jeff Beck Group, Chicken Shack, Circus, Clouds, Pete Drummond, Eclection, Marc Ellington, Jethro Tull, The Liverpool Scene, The Nice, John Peel, Reparata and the Delrons, Savoy Brown, Spirit of John Morgan, Ten Years After, Tyrannosaurus Rex" (link as above).
  • July 6 : Mailbag. Letter complaining about Radio One. "Please let's have more of John Peel, Spooky Tooth, the Nice, Arthur Brown, the Incredible String Band and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Let's have a break from Davy Jones and the Monkees - a permanent break". (link as above)
  • July 13: "1968 - the year of the Nice" by Chris Welch. "Lee (Jackson) is not just a bass player. He is a poet, writer and a good spokesman for the group. A fearsome-looking giant, he displays a streak of sensitivity. He is writing for a forthcoming John Peel's poetry album which will include writing from Eric Burdon, Stevie Winwood and Roy Harper"[20][1]
  • July 13: Mailbag - letter responding to Marmalade article in June 29 issue: "...the Marmalade claim that they try to please the masses with ultra commercial sounds. The essence of Peel's Top Gear is striclty esoteric. Obviously, therefore, anyone aiming solely for the charts cannot expect invitations from such as Top Gear." (link as above)
  • July 20: Focus On Folk, interview by Tony Wilson with "Roy Harper, folk's one-man Mother": "What I'd really like to do is form a thirty-piece band with the Mothers, the Floyd, the Nice, Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Liverpool Scene, Peel and me, and have the total PA all arranged in a big free space somewhere and just play for two days solid."[21]
  • July 20: From "The Raver": "John Peel to have own marquee at Kempton Festival. Will Tyrannosaurus Rex appear?" (link as above)
  • July 27: "I can't really get hung up on a pop ego thing", says Marc (Bolan). "The only unpleasantness we had was in the early days at Tiles Club, when John was doing a Perfumed Garden thing. Sad thuggies who wanted to beat John up".[22]
  • July 27: From "The Raver": "Bee Gees dig John Peel..." (link as above)
  • July 27: Mailbag - "Just what gives John Peel the right to voice his political opinions on the BBC? As an American I thought it in bad taste that he should air his views of the United States on Night Ride..."(link as above)
  • August 3: Review by Chris Welch: ""All this needs is for John Peel to appear with three loaves and five fishes and he could feed the ten thousand" said an observer at the highly successful free concert in Hyde Park, London on Saturday..."[23]
  • August 3: From "The Raver": "John Peel met Peter Green at an apple dipping contest in aid of old folks - cor!"[24]
  • August 17: From "The Raver": "Tim Rose jammed in John Peel's tent..." (at the Sunbury National Jazz and Blues Festival)[25]
  • August 17: Mailbag - letter on the state of jazz: "Jazz is in great danger of losing its place as the music of revolution and anti-bowler hat. Just listen to John Peel and then Humphrey Lyttelton...." (link as above)
  • August 24: Andy Fairweather-Low of Amen Corner reviews new singles in Blind Date: Doors: "Hello, I Love You...": "...They've gone commercial. Three cheers for Doors! I was getting a bit lonely. What will John Peel say? I don't think he'll even play it."[26]
  • September 7: ""We love the screamers" say Skip Bifferty", by Chris Welch. "The Small Faces are their greatest fans and helped produce the single. Other supporters include deejay John Peel...Their first album, with sleevenotes by John Peel, is quite a revelation...".[27]
  • September 14: Mailbag - letter responding to MM's interview with anti-porn, anti-pop campaigner Mrs. Mary Whitehouse; "In future Mrs Whitehouse, if you don't want to watch Top Of The Pops, take John Peel's advice; go into the park and talk to the birds...." Another letter comments on a gig ad in the 31 August issue; "The Move, Cliff Bennett and of all the bloody sock-it-to-me cheek, Geno Washington in a blues festival. Oh, John Peel. What's up with you?... "[28]
  • September 21: From "The Raver": "There should be some pretty fair chat on John Peel's The Voice of Pop this Saturday (21) when Mick Jagger, Tim Rose, Barry Mason, and Tyrannosaurus Rex's Marc Bolan discuss pop lyrics and censorship...."[29]
  • September 21: "Great Group Controversy - Britain v. America" - Chris Welch criticises US groups; "Jim Morrison clumping around was about as sexy as Arthur Mullard and as exciting as John Peel reading the football results..." (link as above)
  • September 21; 1968 Pop Poll results; "John Peel jumps six places to win the Number One Deejay slot...." ; "Top Gear tops"; Bernie Andrews talks about working with Peel on the programme. (link as above)
  • September 21; Mailbag - "Thank Scott, or someone, for Pete Drummond on Friday's Mid-day Spin...as a result of Dummond's unobtrusive presentation,....I am rapidly being converted into an appreciator of this mew-fangled, so-called "progressive" music. The ponderous John Peel never achieved as much" (link as above)
  • September 28: From "The Raver": "John Peel, MM Poll Number One Deejay, voted on his own poll coupon for Kenny Everett..."[30]
  • September 28: ': Report on MM Pop Poll Winners Party: "... Peel made the introductions and "did, as they say, a magnificent job". He's also pictured presenting awards to Lulu and Brian Auger.(link as above)
  • October 5: From "The Raver": "Ed Stewart, Tony Brandon, Rick Dane, Dave Cash, David Symonds and John Peel among Radio One deejays battling it out in stock cars at Wembley Stadium on October 12. Makes a change from the other kind of smashes!"[31]
  • October 5::" Radio One is one, but is it all that wonderful?" A "thumbs-down" view on station's first anniversary, with Peel photo.. "Isn't it just a little bit significant that John Peel, the most unconventional and individualistc of all Radio One disc jockeys, won the MM readers' poll.....?"[32]
  • October 12: News Extra; "Deejay John Peel has produced an album entitled "Amazing Adventures Of" by the Liverpool Scene, featuring poetry and music. It's a Chappells production for release at the end of the year."[33]
  • October 12: "Pop Today And Tomorrow" - Bob Dawbarn "examines the pop scene in Britain today...."; "I am inclined to agree with John Peel when he says: "My great hope is the Stones. Mick Jagger is a fairly chaotic person, aren't we all, but I think he really wants to get things together" (link as above)
  • October 12: "BBC Chief Hits Back" - Radio One Controller Robin Scott responds to critical article in October 5 issue: "I am delighted that John Peel and Top Gear won the MM poll. But John would be the first to admit that his programme is not designed to appeal to all age groups. And he did in fact say this on Late Night Extra. It would hardly be politic to put him on during the 10 to midday period. We have to cater for all tastes." (link as above).
  • October 12: "Club Scene": "John Peel, voted top deejay in the 1968 MM Pop Poll, is certainly No. 1 at Mother's Club, Birmingham, home of the blues and progressive sounds. John is lined up for no fewer than seven appearances at the club between now and the end of the year....(link as above, item on p.25)
  • October 12: Mailbag: "How appropriate in this year of violence and riot that the MM Poll records the victory of "U.S. Male" [by Elvis Presley] in the singles section..... Surely John Peel could have made it his record of the year instead of the sado-masochistic rubbish brought out by Tyrannosaurus Rex and Leonard Cohen...." (link as above)
  • October 19: "Radio One - the verdict is yours!" Readers' views (mostly negative) on the new station. Comments include "the deejays are - with the exception of John Peel and Kenny Everett - a bunch of jabbering halfwits...." and "John Peel's Top Gear and Pete Drummond's Midday Spin are the only programmes I really listen to - the rest is just background music."[34]
  • November 2: "A special recording made by Love Sculpture for John Peel's Top Gear Radio 1 show is being rush-released in response to a big public demand....Love Sculpture have recorded "Sabre Dance" and the disc is being issued on Parlophone on November 15" [35]
  • December 7 Farewell to the Cream, by Chris Welch (review of their final concert, which Peel introduced).: "John Peel must be Britain's only at once inteliigent, funny, informative and popular compere and such a relief from all those dire idiots who have made us cringe with embarrassment at so-called "pop" shows." (read more here)
  • December 7 "Alvin Lee contacts MM from the States - 'We're all turned on to America'". Interview with Ten Years After guitarist in which he praises American underground radio and says of Peel: "John Peel is cool to himself with his show but unintentionally he is making the scene paraniocally aware as soon as anything new gets on it. Then when it gets popular he leaves it alone..." (read more)

References

  1. The album mentioned here never materialised. On the 22 September 1975 show JP recalls reading poetry "written by various rockaboogie artistes" in a session that was "so embarrassingly bad they decided not to go ahead with the project, and I'm quite pleased about it really"; but Lee Jackson did appear as a studio guest on Night Ride.