In the last decade the art of being a DJ has changed dramatically. Names like Westwood, Lisa Lashes, Pete Tong and Judge Jules ensured that it was no longer about the music. People flocked, not to hear the music, but to see the DJ. To witness how tunes were mixed and mashed up on the DJ’s whim. While I admire some of these DJ’s for their sheer technical excellence I have never admired their disrespect for the music – how they consider themselves bigger than the artists they play. To me that is not what Djing is about.
When I DJ I hold my hands up and admit that my technical expertise could probably be matched by a four year old, but as far as I’m concerned I’m there to play music – not to show off.
I’m often asked whom I admire as a DJ. Two people always spring to mind – the first being Sir Jimmy Saville. This may shock you but was the first true live DJ. In 1943 he hit up on the idea of playing records live, he was the first person to use two turntables and an amplifier and played records by Glenn Millar and Harry James throughout Mecca Ballrooms nation-wide.
The second person is considered to be one of the UK music scenes most influential people. John Peel. He championed the music and never ever let celebrity take hold of him. He used to kid new Radio One DJ’s that he was the office bin man but secretly they all knew who he was – he was the reason they got into radio. John Peel had no arrogance when it came to music, he realised that all music had potential and he spent his life celebrating any musical sound that deviated slightly from pop. Many Indie bands owe their careers to him but he’d never admit it. In fact he would hate the fact that I’d just written that.
Sadly, yesterday John Peel died suddenly from a heart attack. The UK Music industry has lost one of its biggest assets and UK radio has lost one of its best voices.
John Peel RIP.