Friday, November 12, 2004

Do ye ken John Peel...?

John Peel
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
Today is John Peel's funeral which will be held in St. Edmunsbury Cathedral, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. There is so little unsaid about this great man that it is hard for me to find appropriate words. His passing two weeks ago was a tremendous shock. I had listened to John for nearly 40 years: initially as a teenager in the UK and more recently, as a resident of Seattle, I would stream in his late night music programme or "Home Truths". I think I had come to think of him as immortal. Or at least an institution like other BBC broadcasts such as the shipping forecast and the football results on a Saturday afternoon. Extraordinaily steady and comforting.

I saw him just once: at the National Jazz & Blues Festival, Sunbury, in the summer of 1968. Yet somehow I felt I knew him as a friend. This was his gift and many of the tributes that poured into the BBC said the same thing. Something to do with the way he could project genuine sincerity, humour, insightfulness and compassion. My record (well OK, now I've replaced most of my vinyl with CDs) collection and indeed my general musical tastes have been very much influenced by Peelie and now I will always think of him when I play Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull et al. He is quite irreplaceable.

John, you left us too early and I don't know who I will listen to now. Apart from your music you were an absolute gentleman and humanitarian. I lament your departure from earthly form however you certainly left your mark on society and you will not be forgotten. My condolences go to your family.


No comments: