The Observer is a British Sunday newspaper first published in 1791. Since 1993 it has been the sister newspaper of The Guardian.

John Peel wrote regularly for The Observer in the second half of the 1980s, frequently reviews of live music events he had attended, but the relationship evidently turned sour: he once called them 'the Sunday newspaper that turned its back on me a few years ago, when I was their man in pop music' (01 March 1992 show). He was then briefly picked up by the newly-launched rival Independent on Sunday.

Peel Articles

Many pieces written by Peel for the newspaper were re-published in Olivetti Chronicles:

  • 1985-09-01, Top of the Pops, pg. 301-3
  • 1985-11-10, Cliff Richard, pg. 255-6
  • 1985-12-22, Turntable Mistress, pg. 314-5
  • 1986-01-19, Bottom Lines, pg. 30-31
  • 1986-01-26, Half Man Half Biscuit, pg. 108-9
  • 1986-03-09, Madonna, pg. 151-3
  • 1986-04-06, Captain Beefheart 1, pg. 36-8
  • 1986-05-11, Aural Vandalism, pg. 9-11
  • 1986-06-15, Misty in Roots, pg. 160-2
  • 1986-07-06, Wham!, pg. 333-5
  • 1986-07-27, UK Fresh 86, pg. 316-7
  • 1986-08-24, Fall, pg. 90-1
  • 1987-02-15, Bhundu Boys, pg. 25-26
  • 1987-02-22, Europe, pg. 64-5
  • 1987-03-08, Chicago House, pg. 42-3
  • 1987-03-22, Protest Songs, pg. 235-6
  • 1987-05-17, Eurovision, pg. 66-8
  • 1987-06-28, Bhangra, pg. 22-24
  • 1987-07-12, Billy Joel, pg. 125-6
  • 1987-07-26, Bemeya Jazz National, pg. 15-16
  • 1987-08-02, Smiths, pg. 276-7
  • 1987-08-16, Butthole Surfers, pg. 32-3
  • 1987-08-23, Madonna 2, pg. 154-5
  • 1987-10-04, Napalm Death, pg. 169-70
  • 1987-11-29, Public Enemy, pg. 237-8
  • 1988-02-07, New Age Music, pg. 171-2
  • 1988-03-06, USSR, pg. 318-9
  • 1988-05-01, Frankie Laine, pg. 139-40
  • 1988-06-05, Extreme Noise Terror, pg. 75-6
  • 1988-07-10, Kylie Minogue, pg. 158-9
  • 1988-07-17, Michael Jackson, pg. 122-4
  • 1988-07-31, Prince, pg. 233-4
  • 1988-10-02, Mancunian Music, pg. 41
  • 1988-10-30, Roy Orbison, pg. 195-6
  • 1988-12-04, Happy Mondays, pg. 110-1
  • 1989-01-22, Bryan Ferry, pg. 92-3
  • 1989-01-29, Sub Pop, pg. 290-1

Please add further information on Peel's articles for The Observer if known.


Those with a subscription (freely available from many libraries) can read Peel's Observer articles in their original form via the Guardian and Observer Digital Archive

The below articles can be read without such a subscription:


  • June 19: ‘And a half a lager for me, please,’ I whispered. ‘Are you sure?’ asked the barman, plainly worried. This was the Metropole, Sunbridge Road, Bradford, serious pints territory where members of the long-established 1 in 12 Club were gathered in an upper room to hear, amongst other bands, Nottingham’s Heresy ... (read more). (See also 03 August 1987)
  • June 28: 'Ranjit to the stage please', urged the DJ, punching up the Nitro Deluxe record and thereby promoting substantial activity on the dance floor. Many of the dancers looked as though they should be at school. Their customers ranged from ... (read more)


  • March 06: Moscow's Olympinsky Village, internally clad with light coloured woods and boasting all the invitations of rock 'n' roll untidiness that one associates with the Purcell Room, was playing host - for one night only - to the local rock community, on this evidence ... (read more)
  • July 17: The last time I saw Michael Jackson at Wembley, he was a diminutive fifth of the Jackson 5, cute and precocious. On Thursday he returned as superhero, larger and appearing stranger than life, with a show I do not expect to see equalled in my lifetime ... (read more)
  • October 02: As a man, who spent his formative on Merseyside, it has always been a source of irritation that so much of the music I prefer originates in Manchester, a city I was encouraged from an early age to believe was populated by the less than human. In the past decade ... (read more)


  • Aug 12: A lot of restaurants feel that they need to intimidate customers into believing that they are good, most people are too terrified of appearing uncool to ask what the hell they are eating. Whenever we go to the Brewers we get a good square meal and without too much fuss ... (read more)


  • Feb 23: This is the first Nick Hornby book I've read. Shocking, but true. Surely, people have said, you must have read Fever Pitch. 'But it's about Arsenal,' I have replied, remembering the pain of the 1950 Cup Final, when they beat Liverpool 2-0. Happily, 31 Songs is not about Arsenal. And, of course, it is a list ... (read more)


  • Dec 12 (reprinted Introduction to 'Choosing Death - The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore'): "ENT (Extreme Noise Terror) were amazing. So were their fans. Any track more than 20 seconds long was greeted with derisive cries of "too long, too slow" or "fucking prog-rockers" from the faithful ... (read more)


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