Monday, August 27, 2007

The hippy of the remove

I'm grateful to Kat's Karavan for the chance to hear again John Peel presenting "Night Ride" in 1969. If memory serves, these shows, which were Radio Four's tentative foray into pop music and the alternative society, went out towards midnight. At the time I used to find them more interesting than his Top Gear shows. I seem to remember Peel blurting something about Robert Kennedy on "Night Ride" on the night he was murdered. This was the kind of thing that nobody did at the time.
This was the famous show where Peel shared his experience of having visited a VD clinic with the presenter of a health education programme. You should give it a listen if only to be acquainted with just what a young man from a posh background sounded like in those days. Peel, outrider for the love generation, sounds, if anything, slightly more buttoned-up and certainly more upper-class than the, presumably older, bloke who is presenting the programme.
This was before he flattened his vowels and began to speak through his nose. The intonation that he eventually developed, in an effort to shed some of his speech day enunciation, bridge the gap between himself and the grammar school boys who made up his burgeoning audience and also sound faintly West Coast, has shaped the way that all night time DJs have sounded ever since.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, a mensh from the Hepworth! Thanks, David.

    Yes, Peel's accent and delivery underwent some changes over the years. Seek out some of the Perfumed Garden shows from 1967 for an even posher, shier JP.

    Then, on first joining Radio 1, Peel completely changed his style, adopting a jokey, 'hip and happening' DJ persona. Have a listen to his first Top Gear show and wince at the banter between him and Pete Drummond. Thankfully, that version of Peel didn't last long.