Top Gear and Peel

If you missed a previous blogs  John Peel was one of the UK’s most influential DJ’s.

My friend Barry was remote and feeling isolated at public school…..not only was he picking up a formal education, he was being formally educated in music. John Peel introduced him to a whole new world and one that would evolve in to a career. Such was the effect Peel had on him that later on he would start to work at the newlyopened retail outlet, Virgin Records. After learning his trade there the time came to move on and two years later, in 1976 he became proprietor of one of the country’s finest record stores, Record Collector in Sheffield.

Although he passed all his exams, I’m not sure his parents enrolled him at public school for the other education he was to receive, the one he loved the most……….he left with a passion for music that has never subsided.

The new national station Radio One had recently started and though no real substitute for the recently outlawed pirates, at least they provided an opportunity to hear the exciting bands that were all around, on both sides of the Atlantic. Here on Saturday afternoons resided the legend who was and always will be John Peel. For all of us growing up in the 60’s ‘Top Gear’ introduced us to the music that would change our lives…forever. The record I first remember hearing was Mr Tambourine Man by The Byrds, for Barry it was Electricity by Captain Beefheart…….we were both in for the ride, and we weren’t getting off.

Music was the common denominator for all of us. We’d compare notes, see what records each of us had bought and then find out where these amazing bands would be playing. Most of them came to Manchester and if they didn’t, we went to them.Houldsworth Hall on Peter Street would put on ‘Grass Eye benefits’ and great as they were I’ve yet to discover who they benefited apart from us. Further up the street stood The Free Trade Hall. Everyone has their own special memories of where they saw their favorite bands and for me it will always be here. Over the years I saw a multitude of bands at dozens of venues all over the country but I will always hold my fondest memories for The Free Trade Hall.

I missed the legendary Bob Dylan ‘Judas’ gig in 1966 but it was still where I saw Led Zeppelin and The Pink Floyd for the first time, and both for under a pound!

 


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