Today, 30 August, would have been John Peel’s 82nd birthday.
The legendary disc jockey, as fabled for his quick wit as for his mind-boggling knowledge of music (there’s even a Twitter account dedicated to some of his finest one liners) inspired a myriad of artists during a 40-year radio career, including a young, Brighton-based techno producer, Dave Clarke.
“John Peel was the most important person the music industry could have ever hoped for,” Clarke explained. “I still have the recording of the first voicemail he ever left me, it’s a very sweet message.
“Without John I wouldn’t have had a career. None of the other radio DJs were interested – I only started to get noticed because John was playing my music. Everyone that wanted to be cutting edge was looking at what John was playing, and I always gave him the exclusives.”
In fact, for Clarke, Peel was more than a supporter; he also helped the up and coming producer get paid, and therefore be able to continue to make music.
“At the time, PRS [the UK’s music royalties organisation] owed me money for radio plays, and I wasn’t getting paid – they gave me £50 for the whole half year, and I was owed a lot more than that. John Peel’s producer Alison Howe sent me a print off of all the radio plays that had taken place, and that was all the evidence I needed.
“Eventually, PRS gave in, and paid me the money I was owed: around £800. With that money, I was able to buy more equipment: keyboards, mixers. Thanks to the money that came from radio plays on John’s show, I was able to make music, and the remix requests started to come in.
“I might have had a career, but I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as successful without John. His timely interruption helped me stay in my groove and be who I needed to be.”
Here’s a recording of Dave Clarke taken from a Peel Session dated 27 October 1995, recorded at the Camden Live Festival of that year. RIP John!