The great John Peel sell-off

The BBC plans to offload its Maida Vale studios, home of the sessions made famous by the late DJ

From deep inside a former ice rink, down a residential street in west London, the DJ John Peel gave the world some of music's most exciting moments. Bands ranging from Led Zeppelin to the White Stripes unleashed their groundbreaking sounds from the BBC's Maida Vale studios. Now, even as preparations get under way to mark the studio's 75th anniversary, it looks as though seven soundproofed rooms that have witnessed so much of British rock history will be sold off.

The property, one of the oldest the BBC owns, has seen everything from Elton John playing pub versions of "Knees Up Mother Brown" in the 1970s to the thrash metal band Napalm Death assaulting everyone's eardrums in the 1980s and the fledgling Nirvana in the 1990s.

To mark the anniversary, the BBC has planned a series of special musical programmes that will be broadcast from Maida Vale on 30 October. Sessions and live performances from artists such as Snow Patrol, Jamie Cullum and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will air on all the major BBC radio stations. A source at the BBC hinted that there was also to be a "very special guest", but refused to be drawn further.

A BBC spokeswoman confirmed this weekend that though "there are no immediate plans" to get rid of the studios, the long-term intention is to "dispose of Maida Vale".

Andy Rogers, a senior producer of live music at Radio 1, said: "Everyone at Maida Vale would absolutely hate it if the studios were changed or sold. Property departments might see it differently, though. It would be very sad to lose all that history."

It was Peel, left, who, for nearly 40 years, put the studios on the music industry map with his Peel Sessions. The sessions later went on to become the pinnacle of many a band's career and the implied endorsement of such a respected DJ was, for many, the key to their success.

From 1967 to Peel's death in 2004, thousands of bands, spanning every genre of music, recorded sessions at the studio. Many recordings went on to be sold as albums in their own right.

"John had such a wide variety of tastes, often you weren't sure what you might get. He would play bands five or six years before anyone else cottoned on to them," Mr Rogers said.

For bands such as the Undertones, being offered a session was almost a "religious experience". "Listening to the session was a bit like those Ovaltine ads of days gone by: everybody clustered around the radio in somebody's front living room listening to this slightly religious experience of your session being broadcast on the John Peel show," said the band's former lead singer, Feargal Sharkey.

"It would be a shame to lose it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing / PR / Social Media Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower