Tag Archives: John Peel

Peel and Prog

Haze

It was suggested on Twitter than the revival of progressive rock over the past decade and a bit was a consequence of the death of John Peel.

I’m not buying it.

It’s true that Peel, who famously dismissed Emerson Lake and Palmer as “A waste of talent and electricity” wasn’t a big friend of progressive rock. Any progressive band he did champion in the early days he dropped like a stone as soon as punk came along. And it’s also undeniably true that he had an enormous and possibly unhealthily excessive influence as a gatekeeper across several decades.

But the timing simply doesn’t support the hypothesis. Peel died in 2004, and the progressive rock revival began in the late 1990s with the emergence of bands from Porcupine Tree to Mostly Autumn. Surely the revival of a grassroots progressive scene has more to do with the rise of the internet allowing music fans and artists to bypass gatekeepers altogether? And possibly the 90s peak of Britpop was a factor too; that was a revival of precisely the sort of one-dimensional guitar pop that the original generation of progressive rock was a response to.

Anyway. I’m sure Peel would be playing bands like The Fierce and The Dead and Knifeworld if he was still alive.

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