A Perfumed Garden No More

John PeelLegendary British radio DJ John Peel has died of a heart attack while on holidays in Peru. He was 65.

John Peel came to the forefront of pop consciousness during the heady days of “pirate radio” in the mid 60’s, that fueled the music revolution in Britain, and soon the world. In those days, I used to listen most often to the competition at Radio Caroline -whenever I could, reception was not terrific in Paris- but I did often tune in to Radio London for Peel’s free-wheeling show, The Perfumed Garden, with its eclectic and invariably surprising program.

When the Wilson government made the pirate stations illegal on August 15 1967, and only Radio Caroline defied the ban, Peel moved to the newly-created BBC Radio One, which was supposed to take over from the pirates. To his credit, of all the pirates’ alumni, Peel was the only one who managed to keep the flame burning in the homogenized and sanitized environment of BBC1. He will be missed.

4 Responses to “A Perfumed Garden No More”

  1. Linus Says:

    In a world where you can’t please everyone, John Peel just about did.

    Do you suppose we’ll find that kind of spirit in radio again?

  2. Pierre Says:

    Good question. That kind of radio is gone for ever, but perhaps the combination of low-power broadcast and Internet streaming can take over. I doubt it, though. The economics are so different that very likely only the independently wealthy could afford such a career move.

  3. DarkoV Says:

    Any truth to rumors that the BBC had run him ragged in the last few years, thus pushing him toward his death?

  4. Pierre Says:

    I doubt it. He was comfortably settled in at Radio 1 and Radio 4. But he was overweight and diabetic, and in the thin air of the Andes, all that caught up with him.

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