Competition winner shares his inspirational prize in new stage show John Peel's Shed
Friday 05 November 2010
I am developing a stage show called John Peel's Shed. In the show, I will play some records that used to be housed in that very building. I will also talk about the records, my passion for radio and the way that John Peel changed my life and the lives of so many other people.
But first, back to the beginning. In 2002, I won a competition on Peel's Radio 1 show. My prize was a box of records from the DJ's shed. It was delivered to my student flat in Norwich. There were albums and seven-inch singles and I spent hours with my headphones on, sat cross-legged by my record player, listening to artists as diverse as Screaming Lord Sutch, a Boyzone-covering punk band called Oizone and Shyheim, the youngest member of the Wu Tang Clan.
I have always loved radio and, without wanting to sound like a teenage cliche, finding Peel's show late one night was one of the most important discoveries of my life. He introduced me to bands I grew to love, from Half Man Half Biscuit to The Smiths. It wasn't just the music he played that made the show so compelling, it was the correspondence from his listeners that Peel read out. There was Alan, decorating his dining room; Ian, who recorded the show on tape and listened to it on his milk float the next morning; Duncan and Katie doing a jigsaw puzzle on their kitchen table. I knew from the first moment that I was part of a special community of listeners.
I was very aware of how special my records from John Peel's shed were. And I knew they deserved to be listened to by a wider audience than anyone who happened to be round at my flat. So with the help of Future Radio, a Norwich community station, I arranged to record a radio show in which I would play my favourite tracks from the collection. I booked some studio time and listened to the records with a renewed passion. Determined to make the shows as interesting as possible, I started to scribble down playlists.
I spent hours tracing the more obscure bands in my collection to see what had become of them. I found out that the singer of Atom and His Package, the author of one of my favourite albums in the collection, was a man called Adam Goren who is now a chemistry teacher in Pennsylvania. He had been forced to give up music because of his asthma. Such discoveries were as fascinating as the records.
'John Peel's Shed' by John Osborne, Rosemary Branch Theatre, London N1 (www.rosemarybranch.co.uk; 020 7704 6665), 17 November
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