John Peel's vinyl goes digital

Wed, May 2, 2012, 01:00

Music fans will be able to rifle through the contents of John Peel’s record collection as the late DJ’s huge archive begins to be opened to the public.

The Radio 1 presenter - who died in 2004 - amassed a colossal treasure trove of over 25,000 pieces of vinyl during his four decades as a champion of new music.

Starting yesterday, his collection is now being placed online with details of 100 albums being added in alphabetical order each week over the coming months as part of a digital arts project.

Users of the site will see his collection includes releases by acts such as Philadelphia new wave band The A’s and industrial electronic act AAAK.

The first batch of albums, for which Peel had typed out track listings to aid his cataloguing, also includes more mainstream selections. It features the first three albums by ABC — The Lexicon Of Love, Beauty Stab and How To Be A Zillionaire.

A screengrab from the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts website shows part of the late presenter's record collection

At one stage there was talk of Peel’s collection being saved for the nation to give the public access to his records through the National Sound Archive.

But now it will be opened up through an online project The Space, which is being unveiled by Arts Council England and the BBC.

The first batch of albums - with artists beginning with the letter A - was placed online yesterday. The list begins with Mike Absalom, who has called Peel “the musical Maypole around which we all danced”.

Creators of the site say it will allow visitors to browse through the records and the DJ’s index cards as well as letting them view personal notes, home movies - including footage from his 50th birthday - and archive performances.

Peel amassed more than 25,000 vinyl albums and 100 will be added weekly until October.

His widow, Sheila Ravenscroft, said: “We’re very happy that we’ve finally found a way to make John’s amazing collection available to his fans, as he would have wanted. This project is only the beginning of something very exciting.”