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

Systems & Data Lead – Oxfordshire – Permanent – Up to £24k

£20000 - £24000 Per Annum 28 days holiday, free parking, pension: Clearwater P...

Digital Media Manager

£38000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Primary Supply Teacher

£115 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Primary supply teacher Hertford...

Primary Supply Teacher in Stevenage

£115 - £121 per day: Randstad Education Luton: primary teacher Hertfordshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

August catch-up: second languages, the secret of love and is it all right to call someone stupid?

John Rentoul
High and mighty: Edinburgh Castle and city skyline  

i Editor's Letter: We're coming to Edinburgh

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?