Andy 'Madman' West: Ah, yes, the John Peel I never knew

If I were to describe Peelie in a word, it would not be bald, it would be integrity

Share
Related Topics

I never met John Peel but somehow I felt I knew him. Growing up in Bromsgrove, there was not much to enjoy in the way of "new music", when I was growing up, apart from new band night every Sunday in the upstairs room of the Royal Oak, so John Peel's legendary radio show was something of a lifeline.

Among the bands who played the Oak, as we knew it, were The Mad Dogs of Tashkent and A Band Called Bernard, both of whom (or which?) sent their demo tapes into John Peel's now almost legendary late-night show on Radio 1 FM, neither of which (or whom) he played.

"Bet the bastard never even listens to half the tapes he gets sent," said Steve, lead singer with the Dogs. "Probably blanks them and records the latest Blondie album to listen to in his big fat car on his way to do another commercial."

But that was never my view. It was John Peel, or Peelie, as I shall always think of him, who inspired me to pursue a career in broadcasting.

I remember listening to him one night in my bedroom in Bromsgrove (that was me in the bedroom, not him, obviously. Ho, ho, I'm mad, me!) playing some dreadful noisy rubbish, probably at the wrong speed, not even bothering to talk up to the vocals, and it was as if the scales fell from beneath my eyes. Up till then, DLT had been my roll model, with his slick Lanco-American style of presentation, and the famous "quack-quack-oops" quiz that has passed into legend.

But it was Peelie who taught me that it was OK to be yourself on the radio, because sincerity will always shine through. So that was what I set to work on, changing my name and learning to speak in a laid-back way that sounded like I wasn't trying too hard, just like Peelie. It took me ages to master that.

There are so many other debts I owe to JP (as I sometimes called him) as well. It was he (him?) who taught me not to let hair loss stand in the way of a full and active social life. I remember seeing pictures of him from the pirate radio days in the 1960s, hair flowing long at the back in the hippy style, but the front telling a different story, of male pattern baldness.

Despite this, though, JP was considered a devilishly attractive man by quite young ladies - say no more, if you get my drift - and even slept with the famous Germaine Greer, before she went mad.

As someone who has been removing clumps of hair from the plug hole since the age of 18, I cannot tell you what an inspiration Peelie was to someone like me. Damn it, bald can be sexy. That's what JP taught me. Thank you, John.

If I were to conjure up one single word to describe Peelie, though, it would not be bald, it would be integrity.

Sure, he did commercials but, as he said on many occasions, he only ever advertised products that he himself used, whether it was toilet duck, breakfast cereals, chocolate-covered wafer biscuits, Central Office of Information warnings not to throw fireworks, or whatever; and I have followed this credo to the letter.

So far, I have only done a carpet commercial, but those very same carpets I advertise are throughout my house, having negotiated a rather handsome discount (stand by your tufted Wilton, fellers, it's free plug time!) from the Carpet King, Long Benton, just off the Ring Road.

So it's a big thank you to Peelie, not just from me but to the countless thousands of untold others whose lives he touched; and by that I mean the listeners to my popular afternoon show on Tyne FM, whose weekly reach has risen 4.2 per cent in the latest Rajar figures, and is now incidentally giving a fairly comprehensive kicking to Storm FM's so-called Afternoon Crew.

I like to think that Peelie is looking down from up above, possibly with John Lennon, Bob Dylan and the lead singer of Smokie by his side, a benevolent smile on his face as he receives the grateful thanks of approximately 35,000 listeners in the North-east on a weekly basis (source: Rajar). On all of their behalf (behalfs?), I say a simple thank you, JP.

Since writing this article, Andy "Madman" West has been sacked as the afternoon show presenter on 106.6 Tyne FM. He was talking to Martin Kelner.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
In this handout provided by NASA from the the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, weather system Arthur travels up the east coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida in space. The robotic arm of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 is seen at upper right. According to reports, Arthur has begun moving steadily northward at around 5 kt. and the tropical storm is expected to strike the North Carolina Outer Banks  

Thanks to government investment, commercial space travel is becoming a reality

Richard Branson
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week