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May 1999

Rock music has been made popular by musicians. Right? Well, perhaps. But an important ingredient of the music business are disc-jockeys.

These are the men who sit behind the microphone of a radio station and announce the next record. I'm not sure how many popular women we have in this business - at least I can't remember a female disc jockey in the league of Alan Freed. If anyone can educate me in this regard, please do so.

Radio disc jockeys are still an important source of information on what's going on in rock music. Most of our cars have access to radio and many of us listen to the radio while driving.

One of the most influential disc jockeys of our time will turn 60 on 30 August 1999. He is based with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) since almost 30 years and his name is John Peel.

John Peel's program has introduced many bands to the public before they had a major record deal. He still plays the music he likes or the music he thinks other people may like. No playlist he has to follow. He only follows his own taste and perhaps musical instincts.

In days of Top Forty radio stations, John Peel's program presents a most welcome alternative. It demonstrates the rich rock culture and the diversity of musical styles which we label under "rock music."

I suggest it's time that more of his kind return back to the microphone and teach us some good lessons. One, not everything which comes out of the centers is good. New York, LA and London may have an abundance of good musicians, but that doesn't mean that Milwaukee, Manchester and Milan couldn't compete in terms of quality.

Two, major record labels are interested in major profits, but a good quality band may need years to provide them. They need support, they need air play, and Top Forty stations by definition don't offer just that.

And thirdly, we need disc jockeys again who understand what they're talking about, not just readers of press releases of record companies. (Check out Alan Freed's web-site, the man who coined the term "rock 'n' roll".)

If you wish to send John Peel your birthday greetings, use this e-mail address:

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