Artist profiles: John Robert Parker Ravenscroft
AboutJohn Robert Parker Ravenscroft
Born: 30 August 1939 in Heswall, on the Wirral Peninsula, near Liverpool, England, UK.
Died: 25 October 2004 in Cuzco, Peru.
John Peel is best known as a British radio DJ –especially for his work on BBC Radio 1 & 4– and occasionally TV.
After completing his military service in Britain in 1962, John began working for WRR radio in Dallas. At the time, with The Beatles success peaking, John used his Liverpool connections to claim acquaintance with the group. He was in Dallas when John F Kennedy was shot and was at the press conference just before Lee Harvey Oswald was shot.
For the next three years he moved to various radio stations in the US, among them KOMA in Oklahoma City and KMEN outside Los Angeles. He returned to Britain in 1967 and joined Radio London with the celebrated show The Perfumed Garden.
However, John's was most well-known after joining BBC Radio 1 from the beginning in 1967. His first show, Top Gear, established him with the late night slot, but through the years until his death, he moved around the schedules reasonably regularly, often much to his chagrin. During the early part of his career at Radio 1, he also co-founded Dandelion Records.
John was the first DJ to give exposure to punk, reggae and hip-hop, long before they crossed over into the mainstream, and also supported a lot of electronic and other world music forms too. Many eminent musicians, both popular and specialist, recorded a "Peel session" over the years, with many like The Fall returning several times throughout their careers.
John also won the prestigious Sony Award for Broadcaster Of The Year in 1993, and was named Godlike Genius by the NME in 1994.
Outside of BBC Radio 1 he also did quite a few non-music related shows on BBC Radio 4, as well as both music & non-music programming for TV, where he could indulge his interest for other subjects.
He died on the 25 October 2004 at the age of 65, after a heart attack while on holiday in Peru.
Two other things of interest. As he couldn't bare to get rid of any music of value, he was well known for his humungous record collection; much of which he stored in a barn of it's own at his family home. The other more poignant thing he is also very much remembered for was his liking for the 1978/1983 track "The Undertones, which would always reduce him to tears. Writing once an article for the Guardian national newspaper giving the reason why he liked it so much, he simply said: "there's nothing you could add to it or subtract from it that would improve it" and that his wife Sheila knew the only words he wants written on his tombstone apart from his name are part of the the first line, "Teenage Dreams, So Hard To Beat".