The first step in the journey of making one of the most important archives in modern music history available to the public begins this week. From today, the first details of DJ John Peel’s record collection will be published online for the first time ever, beginning with the first 100 albums filed under ‘A’.
The project is part of The Space – a new experimental digital service developed by the Arts Council in partnership with the BBC.
The late broadcaster’s home studio has been recreated online offering the public the chance to navigate and interact with the studio, browse through his archive of vinyl LPs and view his personal notes, archive performances and never before seen home footage.
Each week 100 more titles under each letter of the alphabet will be revealed.
Wirral-born Peel, who died in 2004, was a champion of new music during nearly four decades as a DJ on BBC Radio 1. Peel amassed over 25,000 vinyl LPs and 100 of them will be unveiled online each week between May and October. Mike Absalom is the artist behind the first album in the archive and once described Peel as “the musical maypole around which we all danced”.
The virtual studio features artefacts as Peel left them – the mixing desk, the touching family photos on the wall and the Liverpool Football shirt.
The public will be able to watch exclusive footage of John Peel on holiday, an interview with his widow Sheila Ravenscroft explaining why she decided to do this now, and never before screened personal footage from John Peel’s 50th birthday.
Some of his personal notes, contributors’ stories and filmed interviews with family and musicians will be available and there will be access to the archive of the legendary Peel Sessions.
John meticulously catalogued his 25,000 vinyl LPs and the public will also have the chance to view these hand-typed index cards for each record.
Sheila Ravenscroft is the Patron of the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts says, “We’re very happy that we’ve finally found a way to make John’s amazing collection available to his fans, as he would have wanted. This project is only the beginning of something very exciting”.
The Space will run from May to October across PCs, smartphones, tablets, internet connected TVs and will also be available as a red button, video on demand service via Freeview HD.
Head on over there now, the very first artist to feature is Folk Singer, Painter, Writer and Poet Mike Absalom. Mike was number A0001 in John’s collection with ‘Save the Last Gherkin for Me’. Mike also ran a folkclub in Bayswater pre-1968 which featured the Dubliners, The Incredible String Band. The archives feature a great video interview with Mike who talks about this interesting period and the beginnings of pyschedelia, he admits he was quite stoned a lot of the time, it was a ‘vague time’. He lovingly describes John Peel at that time as a ‘musical maypole’ with everyone swinging around him, everyone was talking about who he had played….
I won’t spoil it, it’s an Aladdin’s cave, go check it now!
By the way, Mike Absalom keeps himself busy these days painting but I came across this poetry reading and just had to share it with you:
Check John Peels Archive here: thespace.org