In 7 days time on the anniversary of his last radio broadcast, the BBC will be commemorating and celebrating the life of the man known on his birth certificate as John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, but to music lovers the world over as John Peel. On the 13th October gigs the world over will be dedicated to the great man on the first John Peel Day. Radio 1 will be broadcasting a 6 hour special from 7pm, including highlights of the now sold out gig at the Queen Elizabeth Hall the night before (New Order, SFA, The Fall and others - try looking for tickets on Scarlet Mist). Now this is the bit where you adopt the Bill Hicks voice. That's John Peel Day. DAY. We'll have to check with the spods, erm Londonista science folks but we're pretty sure a day is twenty four hours long starting just after the midnight pips not at 7pm. Now far be it from us to speculate that even for one teensy day of the year they might just throw out the playlist and let the DJs PLAY WHATEVER THEY WANT. But that's what it looks like. It says Peel Day on the label Mr BBC Man, that doesn't mean playing Teenage Kicks once an hour between the breakfast show and drive time. And the same goes for all you other radio stations out there. You have been warned.
Still, with a tulip named after him and a compilation album of some of his favourite tracks on the way there's much more going on to remember the gruff voiced boy from the Wirrall whose sudden and untimely death on the 25th October last year robbed us of maybe the greatest exponent of music this country has ever seen. And although we expect stories and tributes across the airwaves throughout the day it's at the gigs where the real soul of John Peel Day will reside. Lots of bands getting out there and playing some tunes. Radio 1's site has a list of everything, well nearly everything, going on across the country including the capital.
Of these events there are two in particular we'd like to draw your attention to. First up on the 12th, so no clashes there folks, at the 12 Bar Club on Denmark Street, Blang present Sergeant Buzzfuzz, Ben Calvert, Stuffy/The Fuses, The Sways and Lelia Zerai (in that order) at their I'm A Peel-iever night from 7.30 to late. They'll be playing tapes of Peel's shows between sets and keeping the spirit alive through general randomness. More info and links to the bands on the Blang site.
On the day itself Peel favourites, The Jesus And Mary Chain's Jim Reid will be playing a rare gig at Sonic Cathedral at The Legion on Old Street. With some surprise guests in the offing (and they won't tell us who) alongside DJ sets from The Telescopes and one of the first UK outing's for Australia's The Morning After Girls it promises to be an evening of fine shoegazing. Did anyone mention they play Ulrich Schnauss. That's a good thing.
Drowned in Sound once said that every day should be John Peel Day. And they're right. In his own, self-effacing way he was one of Radios greatest mavericks, and through his undying passion for music a lesson to us all that you're never too old to rock'n'roll. But always too young to die.
John Peel Day Site
Guardian special report