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John Peel dies aged 65

Veteran DJ John Peel, 65, has died. He suffered a heart attack shortly after being taken ill during a working holiday in the city of Cuzco, Peru, with his wife Sheila. John Peel was a DJ on BBC Radio 1 since it was founded. His evening radio show occupied a unique position in British popular music, popularising such diverse acts as Jimi Hendrix, Marc Bolan and the Sex Pistols. “He passed away. We don’t have any details. We received a phone call at 4am from his brother to inform us,” said Jonathan Clare, a British embassy official in Lima. The BBC in London said Peel was on a working holiday in Cuzco with his wife, Sheila. Radio 1 Controller Andy Parfitt said “John Peel was a broadcasting legend. I am deeply saddened by his death as are all who work at Radio 1. John’s influence has towered over the development of popular music for nearly four decades and his contribution to modern music and music culture is immeasurable. “Hopeful bands all over the world sent their demo tapes to John knowing that he really cared. His commitment and passion for new music only grew stronger over the years. In fact, when I last saw him he was engaged in a lively debate with his fellow DJs over the state of new music today. He will be hugely missed. ” The BBC’s director of radio and music, Jenny Abramsky, said: “John Peel was a unique broadcaster whose influence on Radio 1 could be felt from its very first days. “He nurtured musicians and listeners alike introducing them to new sounds. His open minded approach to music was mirrored by his equally generous approach to his audience when he went to Radio 4 to present Home Truths. He had a remarkable rapport with all his listeners. Everyone at BBC Radio is devasted by the news. John is simply irreplaceable. Our hearts go out to Sheila and his children.” Peel, born John Ravenscroft in 1939, was one of Britain’s original pirate radio disc jockeys in the 1960s, broadcasting from ships anchored just outside British waters that won huge followings. Peel was his assumed “pirate” name. In the late 1970s he championed punk rock to the consternation of many of his radio contemporaries who were still playing rock supergroups – and were convinced the new music fad would never had any real impact. Peel was awarded an OBE for his services to British music.