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BBC radio jock John Peel's reign on the air was one of consistent exploration into new music. Though most of Peel's contemporaries' record collections froze around the time man landed on the moon, Peel has continually sought out and championed new music, helping to usher in the punk and new wave eras of the '70s and the alternative revolution of the late '80s and '90s. Born John Ravenscroft, Peel served in the British army and sold insurance before getting into radio. His first foray came when he moved from England to Texas in the mid-'60s and began working at a Dallas radio station. His British accent made him somewhat of a local celebrity during the era of the British Invasion and Peel went on to work at KOMA in Oklahoma City and KMEN in San Bernadino in CA. In 1965 Peel returned to the U.K. where he worked on a pirate radio ship anchored just off the coast. That same year he was hired at the BBC and was been there until his death in 2004. From the start, Peel's time on the air has been a showcase for underground and/or cutting-edge bands that are ignored by the mainstream. When other DJs were playing Motown hits, Peel was playing Quicksilver Messenger Service and other experimental groups. This willingness to explore new directions and artists helped Peel break the careers of David Bowie, the Fall, and the Smiths, among others. Peel also formed a close friendship with Marc Bolan in the late '60s, helping the eccentric hippie score a record contract and break into the mainstream. Perhaps Peel is most well known for his "Peel Sessions" releases, which document the live radio broadcasts he has done over the years. Turning his studio over to various groups, the Peel Sessions series allows new acts to be heard, as well as established groups to rework past releases or cover other artists. In 1993 the British DJ launched Peel Out in the States, a series designed to bring his popular BBC show to American audiences. As shortwave radio had done previously, the internet proved to be the medium that music fanatics outside of the U.K. used to reach Peel for his singular broadcasts. His renown as a champion of new artists of all stripes, from drum'n'bass to noise, continued into the new millennium. Sadly, John Peel passed away after suffering a heart attack while on holiday in Peru in October of 2004. ~ Steve Kurutz, Rovi