Pete Townshend to give inaugural John Peel Lecture

The Who guitarist will assess the impact of the internet on Peel's approach to musical discovery

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Who guitarist Pete Townshend is to kick off a new series of annual music lectures dedicated to legendary radio DJ John Peel.

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The talk will air on BBC 6 Music on Monday 31 October, live from the Radio Festival in Salford.

Entitled Can John Peelism survive the internet?, Townshend’s lecture will address the impact of downloads and an increasingly disposable attitude to music consumption on creativity and the kind of “unpolished” music that John Peel championed.

Famed for his dry wit, eclectic taste and promotion of new music in his late-night Radio 1 slot, Peel introduced generations of listeners to sounds they might otherwise never have heard. He died of a heart attack in 2004, aged 65.

Townshend said, “I am honoured to be invited to deliver Radio 6 Music’s John Peel Lecture. Through John’s shows I first heard artists like the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Undertones and the Proclaimers before they had record contracts.

“John didn’t just listen to music, he played it on air and let his audience decide. He was a listener first, and an activist second, and I am happy to have a chance to honour him and examine how his legacy might extend into the future.”

The lecture will be produced by Peel’s son, Tom Ravenscroft, now himself a 6 Music DJ, who noted that it would not be the first thing dedicated to his late father.

“We have in the past few years had trains, housing estates and a restaurant named after dad and so I think he’d have been both bemused and delighted to see he now has a lecture and that Pete Townshend will be delivering the first of them. 

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“I’m really happy that 6 Music are honouring him in this way and that the people who kindly agree to participate will help ensure that his legacy will continue into the future.”