Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Carl Wilson and Sasha Frere-Jones put up tributes to the renowned BBC DJ and musical exhorter. My friend Jay Sherman-Godfrey met John Peel while touring with Laura Cantrell in England. This is Jay’s tribute, which he sent me on Tuesday:

"John Peel died. 65, heart attack on vacation in Peru. I knew little of him before he took on Laura's cause, but after the two Peel sessions we did (the one at his home was for the ages), I would tune in to his Thursday late-night BBC-1 show at work in the afternoon, benefiting from the time difference. It was a habit for a while, but it fell off over time. My brief encounter with him revealed a sweet, sharp, energetic music lover. Curious like a kid. Contagiously enthusiastic. At his house, getting ready for the broadcast, Jon G was warming up on the steel, playing a bit of Santo and Johnny. Peel, who had been chatting with us while simultaneously jotting down a playlist and getting CDs from monstrous racks behind his little studio, perked his ears. "Santo and Johnny!" He raced out, as a record played over the air to another building on his property where he kept his LPs, rushing in just in time to cue up the Santo and Johnny record he'd just fetched, make a pithy segue, and let it fly. We were all grinning. Forgotten Santo and Johnny anecdote followed. We played -- he LISTENED (really).

Afterward, expecting to be ushered to the waiting BBC van to the hotel, we instead sit at the great wooden table in the kitchen and swap stories. Though he is mostly on the telling side, when we spoke he LISTENED (really).

Three stories stuck: Rod Stewart dancing w/ John's mum at his wedding (and only his mum w/ pictures to prove it), Yoko Ono calling him to the hospital as an "approved donor" when she needed a blood transfusion after her miscarriage; and he being in Dallas when Kennedy was killed and sneaking into the press conference just before Oswald was gunned down.

Those few hours were incredible, and we all parted in the wee hours like old friends, though I'm sure he wouldn't have known me if he saw me again. Later, the thing I recalled most was his remarkable generosity. So rare."

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