From the BBC:
Veteran BBC broadcaster John Peel has died at the age of 65, while on holiday in Peru.
Peel, whose radio career spanned 40 years, was on a working holiday in the city of Cuzco with his wife Sheila when he suffered a heart attack.
For those of you who have never heard of him, he was a DJ in the UK for over 40 years, including working at BBC Radio 1 since it was created in 1967. He supported independent bands throughout his career, when it is routine for older broadcasters to switch to more ‘easy-listening’ stations as their era of music ends. At the same time he had a regular program on Radio 4 (something like NPR), showing that he had perhaps mellowed with time. He was also popular in Eastern Europe before and after the end of communism, with regular programs on the BBC World Service and Radio Eins in Berlin. He is famous for his ‘Peel Sessions’; recordings by independent artists done for his show. I doubt there are many musically significant bands in the UK over the last 30 years that haven’t done a Peel Session.
Some of his honours include an OBE from the Queen, 7 honorary degrees, Melody Maker’s DJ of the Year 11 times, The Sony Gold Award in 2002, and perhaps most fittingly in 1994 he received NME’s “Godlike Genius Award”. In the world of independent music they may have been right.
Update: Slate has an article about the impact on the US.