If you were in the UK between 1967 and 2004 and turned on the radio, chances are you probably heard the voice of the late John Peel, BBC Radio 1 DJ and presenter, whose legendary status is well-earned through his championing of new music, his eclectic taste, and his laidback style and manner. His Peel Sessions featuring live studio recordings from anyone from Aphex Twin to the Zimbabwe Cha Cha Cha Kings have had some classic performances and he’s credited with bringing the White Stripes’ bluesy music to the masses.
One of the many things he was admired for was his love of vinyl, his collection of which was vast, greatly admired, and featured around 25,000 LPs, 40,000 singles and thousands of CDs. And it’s his LP album collection which is making the leap from the physical to the virtual in an online project called The Space, which will archive his collection and make it available for the world to enjoy. Starting today and over the next five months or so 2,600 albums will be put online with an additional 100 added in alphabetical order each week.
The records are presented just like they would be in his library including album artwork and his meticulous notes.
This collection encompasses all kinds of music as well as the splinter subgenres that pop up around different styles, from punk, indie, rock, metal, EDM, reggae, rap, easy listening metalcore, avant-garde country jazz, and classical gabba. OK, the last three I made up, but this was a man who embraced anything and everything, a forerunner of today’s anything goes mashup culture. The online space takes the form of Peel’s home studio and library and, in addition to his behemoth of a music collection, the archive will also feature videos, some Peel Sessions, photos, and radio shows.
“It is the first step in creating an interactive online museum with access to the entire collection, which is one of the most important archives in modern music history.” explained Tom Barker director at the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts, who are collaborators on the project.
Annoyingly, you can’t listen to all the records online, but the site links through to the ones that are available on Spotify.