Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Corgi Adult (3 Jul 2006)
John Peel, who died in late '04, was a British institution. A disc jockey, yet one of the most influential people in British popular music, he had an instantly recognisable voice, and an uncompromising attitude that meant that he would never be one to pay any heed to radio playlists or the like. He felt it his duty to tell his listeners about bands, and about whole musical genres, that they might otherwise never hear about. And in return, it was to Peel that little known bands would send their demo tapes, because he was their best chance to be taken seriously.
This, then, is his autobiography, and fascinating it is, too - his voice comes through very strongly for the first half. Sadly, that first half only runs through to the mid 60s, when he was a salesman in Texas. The second half has been written by Sheila Ravenscroft. Sheila who? Well, John Peel was born John Ravenscroft, and Sheila was his second wife. She wasn't around in Texas, and didn't meet Peel till after he had returned from the US and unburdened himself of his first wife, so there is a certain hiatus between the two halves. And yet, the book as a whole mostly works, though the reader must mourn the possible tale that would have resulted if only the detail in the first half could have been extended to the end.
In the end, it makes one thankful we had him, and sorry that he's gone.