John Peel

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

John Peel Pencil Portrait
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The quality of the prints are at a much higher level compared to the image shown on the left.


A3 Pencil Print-Price £45.00-Purchase

A4 Pencil Print-Price £30.00-Purchase

*Limited edition run of 250 prints only*

All Pencil Prints are printed on the finest Bockingford Somerset Velvet 255 gsm paper.

P&P is not included in the above prices.


The Space is an online partnership between Arts Council England and the BBC, and subject to BBC Trust approval is planning to re-launch in Spring/Summer 2014. It’s a dynamic new space for artists and audiences to invent and explore brilliant digital art, live, free and on-demand. Whilst it aims to showcase new talent and produce fresh content, it will also introduce future generations to an abundant musical heritage.

During his lifetime, famed DJ John Peel amassed a collection comprising 40,000 singles and 25,000 albums in addition to CDs. In 2012, a £100,000 Arts Council grant was used by the John Peel Centre to develop the famed DJ’s record collection at The Space. To date, about a tenth of the broadcaster’s vinyl albums, which he kept at his home near Stowmarket, have been uploaded on The Space. Whilst funding for the project did run out, staff from the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket reacted positively by adding more titles to a new site. Peely would have approved.

It goes without saying that by the time of his death at the early age of 65, John Peel was already one of the UK’s most-loved broadcasters. In a radio career spanning 40 years, he had become BBC Radio 1’s longest-serving DJ and in recent years had also presented Home Truths on Radio 4.

Incumbent Prime Minister Tony Blair, described Peel as “an extraordinary and unique personality”.

“He unearthed different sounds and people and made them accessible and popular… he was a genuine one off – and a warm and decent human being too.”

I personally always found him an engaging personality. Maybe it was the dry laconic humour, that self effacing manner, or perhaps more importantly, his encyclopedic musical mind? No matter, there was undeniably, an amiable ‘blokish’ quality to his general demeanour, and an astute awareness of his chosen profession and its place in the music industry

Interviewed by Disc & Music Echo in 1969, he was moved to say:

‘It is obvious that disc-jockeys, as a class, are essentially parasitic. We are, with lamentably few exceptions, neither creative nor productive. We have, however, manipulated the creations of others records to provide ourselves with reputations as arbiters of public taste………Therefore, accepting the falseness of my own precarious position, I will do what I can, whenever I can, to publicise these good things I hear around me. These musicians have made you aware of, and appreciative of, their music – not J. Peel.’

Peel was born in Heswall, near Liverpool, and after completing his military service in Britain, went to the US where he began working for a radio station in Dallas. It has always intrigued me that during this period of time, he would engage briefly with JFK on his 1960 Presidential campaign trail, stand in Dealey Plaza just 45 minutes after the assassination, and observe Oswald being taken away for further questioning on 22/11/63.

In an interview recorded on June 23, 1996, Peel recalled that fateful day in Dallas, his barely believable tale corroborated by a news crew inside the police station which captured him on film observing the proceedings.

“I went over there the beginning-to-middle of 1960. The first radio programs I did were on a station called WRR in Dallas and they had a rhythm & blues program called Kats Karavan, spelled inevitably with two K’s. I’d gotten some British LPs of blues and rhythm & blues stuff that were only available in Britain, or in Europe anyway, so I went along and played them some of those records and they put me on the radio to talk about them. I thought they’d probably put me on there because of my extraordinary knowledge of the music, but I think in fact they probably put me on there because they found my accent very entertaining because in those days I used to talk a bit like Prince Charles.” …

_“This was not the day that Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby; it was a few days before that. It was when he was kind-of presented to the press as the man who’d been arrested and charged. And, I mean, it was just one of those things that — Earlier on when the assassination first happened, and I’d been – I used to work here for an insurance company on Central Expressway, so I was able to get into town pretty quickly. I was an office boy, so I could come and go as I pleased, and so when I heard about the assassination, it was announced on the P.A. in the office, and I just drove into town and went to the police cordon and told the policeman, I said, “I’m from The Liverpool Echo” and instead of telling me to piss-off, he let me through. It’s one of those things which sounds so bizarre. And I walked down – I didn’t go to the grassy knoll – I just stood on the other side of the road and kind of watched what was going on until frankly it became boring. It’s hard to imagine that it did, but after I stood there about 40 minutes and watching people scurrying about, so I then went and made what I’d said kind-of retrospectively true and phoned The Liverpool Echo, and funnily they weren’t terribly interested. I thought, Cripes, here’s my chance because I’ve always wanted to be in journalism, so I thought, hey, this is my chance to get into journalism. I could be The Liverpool Echo’s “Man in Dallas”, but they really didn’t care. So I was a bit wounded by that, but then that night a mate of mine and I had been driving around and were trying to figure out what to do, and at the end of the evening I said, why don’t we go down to the police headquarters and see what’s going on. And we got down there, and I said to this policeman, I said “what’s happening?” And he said, “Well, actually there’s a press conference down here,” pointing to a flight of steps into the basement of the building – “there’s a press conference in here in a few minutes.” And I said, “Well, actually I’m from The Liverpool Echo and this is my photographer,” and we went down there. I mean, we didn’t have a pen or paper or camera between us, but we went in there anyway.

It’s a story that I’ve told so often that you get to the point where you don’t really believe it yourself, it just seems so unlikely. But then in one of the bits of film of that press conference, we were all standing in this room and they had the identification parade in the basement of this building and they said – Henry Wade said – that this is the man that’s been charged in the assassination of President Kennedy, and they brought in Lee Harvey Oswald. And he stood there looking slightly puzzled and alarmed for a while, and then was taken away again. In one of the films of this, which they showed on British television, they showed that Jack Ruby was in the room as well – which I didn’t know he was until I saw this film they sort-of panned across the room and in the last few frames you can see me and my friend Bob standing there looking like tourists.” …_

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