Peel LP collection goes online

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The Independent Culture

It is a record collection that any vinyl enthusiast would covet. From obscure German techno to Appalachian folk music, to the latest sounds in the rock and pop world; the thousands of carefully catalogued albums owned by the late DJ John Peel literally have something for everyone.

From this week, music fans will get the opportunity to sift through the diverse collection, as a new online museum devoted to his revered collection is made available.

The project, co-funded by the Arts Council and the BBC, will see information on some of the 26,000 vinyl albums Peel amassed over his career put on a website. Each week, over the next 26 weeks, details of 100 albums will be released, alphabetically. Due to the sheer size of Peel's collection, it was decided to release 100 per week.

At the heart of the huge collection, which is kept at his home in Suffolk, was a meticulous cataloguing system whereby Peel would type out a filing card for every album. Starting in 1969, he made a postcard-sized card for each new LP, and inscribed the name of the album; the name of the band and all the tracks.

Due to the complications of putting albums online, the music itself will not be made available; rather, links will be given to music-buying sites such as Spotify and iTunes.

Perhaps less known to Peel's fans was the fact that he was also prolific in making home videos. Those charged with producing the new website discovered around 30 hours of footage, ranging from videos of the bands he championed to a trip to Anfield football ground in Liverpool in a moving tribute to the fans who died at the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent on Sunday this weekend, Sheila Ravenscroft, John Peel's widow, said: "Even just within those first 100 records from each letter, I think people are going to be very interested as to what's in the collection. I think they will be amused and intrigued by it.

"There'll be information about the record sleeve, front and back, all the information about the record itself, as well as whether John rated the album or not."

She added: "Then out of those first 100, we've chosen one artist that we're honing in on, that we're going to do a special thing on each week."

The John Peel museum will be one of 53 commissions on a digital service called The Space, run by the Arts Council and the BBC.

The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts and Eye Film and Television produced the site after being given access by John Peel's family to the collection, which includes 40,000 singles and – as yet uncounted – many thousands of CDs, as well as the LPs.

"It's a very personal look at John's collection," said Charlie Gauvain, production partner for the John Peel Centre. "There are two rooms that you'll [virtually] go into. The first room is John's studio, which is pretty unchanged since he died.

"We've got a film that's never been broadcast before, which was made around his 50th birthday, called John Peel's Suffolk Comforts. It was never transmitted and it's a real gem. It's got some really personal things in it."

John Peel died of a heart attack aged 65 while on a working holiday with his wife in Peru, in 2004. He was the longest serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs, having broadcast regularly from 1967 right up until his death.