"No recording of the Kop will ever really capture Anfield at its Shankly-era best but the song and the sentiments are simply astonishing.”
(John Peel, The Ingerland Factor Playlist, 1999)
As a staunch supporter of Liverpool football team, Peel had a special place in his heart for the song most closely associated with the club. You'll Never Walk Alone was played at both his wedding in 1974 and at his funeral 30 years later.
Originally written for the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, the Anfield anthem was adopted by fans on the Kop terrace shortly after a cover version by Merseybeat band Gerry & The Pacemakers reached number one in the UK charts in 1963.
The recorded version that Peel seemed to prefer was a live crowd rendition that appeared on The Kop Choir LP released in 1972. Seven years later, on the night of his 40th birthday, the DJ played the track as a bonus after counting down the 40 records he would like to hear at his birthday party and described the addition as “the best record of the lot.” In 1983, introducing the song on My Top Ten, Peel referred to the Kop Choir as “the greatest group on Earth.” The match recording, a regular feature of Peel's live DJ sets, appeared on the DJ’s FabricLive. 07 compilation, released in 2002.
A host of artists produced session versions, including a reprise of their hit by Gerry & The Pacemakers in 1973 and a string of covers in spring 1982, when the DJ asked all his guests to attempt the song as part of an eventually abandoned album project(he admitted that many bands weren't willing to play the song).  In 1998, a live session version by Melys (plus London Welsh Male Voice Choir) reportedly reduced Peel to tears at the desk in the booth at Maida Vale.
Peel also featured a Kop version of the song on his shows as part of the track Fearless from Pink Floyd's 1971 album Meddle; apparently the band were inspired to include it as a result of hearing it on Top Gear.  The Liverpool crowd's rendition was also sampled on 'Sharp As A Needle' by Barmy Army, a Peelenium choice for 1987 that reached #17 in the 1987 Festive Fifty.
In less happy times, Peel would choose an Aretha Franklin performance of You’ll Never Walk Alone to play on his first radio show following the Hillsborough stadium disaster in April 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans died. The DJ used Franklin's rendition of the song to lead his set at the 1997 Hillsborough Justice Concert at Liverpool's Anfield ground. On 15 April 1999, he played the same version on his show again to mark the tenth anniversary of the tragedy.
Session Versions Edit
(Many thanks to Ken Garner for confirming this list is complete)
- Cover Project
- Ju Ju (#1, first broadcast 27 April 1982, recorded 1982-04-14)
- Crabs (#1, first broadcast 03 May 1982, recorded 1982-04-21)
- Shambeko Say Wah (two versions) (#3, first broadcast 18 May 1982, recorded 1982-05-05)
- Endgames (#2, first broadcast 26 May 1982, recorded 1982-05-10)
- Gymslips (#1, first broadcast 20 May 1982, recorded 1982-05-12)
- Diagram Brothers (#3, first broadcast 22 July 1982, recorded 1982-06-26)
- Amazulu (#1, first broadcast 07 July 1982, recorded 1982-05-06)
- Kevin Coyne (#9, first broadcast 08 July 1982, recorded 1982-06-07)
- Three Johns (#1, first broadcast 10 August 1982, recorded 1982-07-21)
- Gerry & The Pacemakers (#1, first broadcast 24 April 1973, recorded 1973-04-17)
- Melys (#2, first broadcast 23 June 1998, live at Maida Vale)
Other Show Plays Edit
- 04 February 1972 (album released 1972, first known play)
- 24 April 1973 (Liverpool all but mathematically certain of first title in seven years)
- 24 May 1973 (credited to "Anfield Road Choral Society"; night after LFC win UEFA Cup )
- 18 August 1978 (start of new season)
- 30 August 1979 (40th birthday)
- 22 April 1981 (Liverpool get through to the European Cup final)
- 28 May 1981 (night after Liverpool won European Cup in Paris)
- 30 May 1984 (the night Liverpool won the European Cup on penalties in Rome)
- 24 June 1999 (from Peel's joint DJ set with Steve Lamacq live from Glastonbury)
- 15 February 2001 (Kop Choir album re-released on CD)
- 21 June 2001 (from Peel's live DJ set at Sonar)
- 17 April 1989 (first show after Hillsborough disaster)
- 15 April 1999 (tenth anniversary of Hillsborough)
Gerry & The Pacemakers
- 22 April 1981 (played before Kop Choir version to celebrate European Cup final qualification)
Rubbermaids + Gegengerade Allstars
- 27 August 1994 (played during Reading Festival show after giving football results)
Barmy Army (as part of 'Sharp As A Needle')
- 25 November 1986
- 29 December 1987 (1987 Festive Fifty, #17)
- 30 August 1989 (50th birthday party)
- 21 December 1999: 1987 Peelenium
- 19 December 2000 (Festive Fifty 25th anniversary quiz)
- 21 June 2001 (from Peel's live DJ set at Sonar)
Pink Floyd (as part of 'Fearless' from the Meddle LP)
- Various Artists: (LP - You'll Never Walk Alone: The Hillsborough Benefit Album) (03 July 1997)
- Rubbermaids & Gegengerade Allstars: (LP-Spitzenreiter) (02 November 1996)
- Blind Boys of Alabama (?) (24 July 2003 (Radio Eins)) (appears in the track listing but was not played on the show)
- Peel also played other tracks from "You'll Never Walk Alone: The Hillsborough Benefit Album" on 01 July 1997 ('Sugarcoated Iceburg' by the Lightning Seeds) and 02 July 1997 ('Ferry Cross The Mersey' by Holly Johnson). Peel had compered the concert documented by the album, at Anfield on 1997-05-10 (see review here).
- A rendition of 'She Loves You' credited to the "Anfield Kop" (from the Bend It '92 LP) was played by Peel on his 08 January 1993 show.
- The song's title was also used for a Trevor Dann-produced documentary in which Peel interviewed Kenny Dalglish, Adrian Henri and Peter Hooton. Part of Radio 1's week in Liverpool, it was first broadcast on 12 March 1983. 
- ↑ As described by Sheila, they left the church with the song "booming out on the organ" (Margrave Of The Marshes pg. 288). See also the online account of his funeral at the Guardian site.
- ↑ chartstats.com
- ↑ 30 August 1979.
- ↑ The song was generally used with Teenage Kicks to close his sets. See online 2005 tribute by son Tom Ravenscroft. 
- ↑ See Ken Garner's In Session Tonight, pg 311.
- ↑ 13 July 1982
- ↑ Ken Garner, The Peel Sessions (BBC, 2005), p.163).
- ↑ 18 December 2003 (Radio Eins)
- ↑ See the online Peel biography at the BBC's Keep It Peel site. The programme was presumably on 17 April 1989, the Monday two days later.
- ↑ See his description of the event on 23 May 1997 (BFBS).
- ↑ The only session by the band was repeated on 10 July 1982 in the first programme in the second series of Peel's Pleasures.
- ↑ The Peel Sessions, p. 225.