Like father, like son: Peel's boy steps into his old man's shoes to find talent

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The Independent Online

Now Tom Ravenscroft, the second youngest of Peel's four children, is to inherit his father's mantle as an arbiter of new music through a website - to be launched today - dedicated to finding the next generation of stars.

Today has been declared John Peel Day, with hundreds of gigs taking place around the country in memory of the much-loved broadcaster. The Independent can reveal that the website, expected to be named after Peel, is being created by Universal Music, the world's biggest music group, in conjunction with Clive Selwood, Peel's former manager and friend, who spent many years as an executive with record companies such as Elektra and CBS.

Ravenscroft, now 25, who has developed his father's enthusiasm for finding fresh talent and has already been involved in producing two unknown bands, will share supervision of the website with Selwood and help identify artists with the potential for future success. His involvement with the venture is deeply poignant not only because it continues his father's work, but also because the website will carry the name of Dandelion Records, the independent company set up by Selwood and Peel in the late 1960s designed to showcase work by artists discovered by the DJ. The label faded out in the early 1970s, but the name has been retained by Selwood.

Selwood said: "For 30-odd years, John was the point of reference for the best new cutting-edge talent and now there's no real replacement. The ethos behind this site is to fill that void and in turn reveal the next generation of recording stars. I'm really looking forward to working with Tom because John would have been so pleased that his son is picking up the reins.''

He added: "Although this is an online venture, it's the kind of thing John would be almost certainly likely to have got into, had he lived. It's simply an extension of the work he did.''

The website will work by inviting unsigned bands and artists to upload their music. Visitors will be able to sample and download the music and the number of such "hits" will determine which ones are picked up for proper release with full support from Universal.

Universal's chairman and chief executive Lucian Grange said: "It is terrific to play a part in continuing the legacy of someone who influenced the careers of so many artists."

The new venture is being launched during a remarkable series of celebrations to mark Peel's life and work as the anniversary nears of his death from a heart attack on 25 October last year. Last night, members of Peel's family attended a John Peel memorial concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, headlined by New Order, The Fall and Super Furry Animals. As well as hundreds of gigs and events around the country, today BBC Radio 1 has six hours of dedicated Peel-related programming.

Since his father's death, Ravenscroft has been helping with the family's completion of Peel's unfinished autobiography, Margrave of the Marshes, which is due to be published next week, and has been involved in a Channel 4 documentary on his father's favourite records, which is to be broadcast in November. He is also behind a charity tribute recording of the Buzzcocks' classic "Have You Ever Fallen in Love" featuring Elton John, Roger Daltrey and others, due to be released on 21 November.

According to friends of the family, not only does Ravenscroft share his father's love of discovering music, but also many of Peel's characteristics, including his self-effacing manner. One said: "He's so like his father, it's frightening."