Can it really be nine years since we lost broadcasting legend John Peel?
His death at the age of 65 while on holiday in Peru in late October, 2004, left a huge gap for many devoted fans of the much-loved DJ and presenter.
Peel’s unique understated tones rang across the nation’s airwaves from the first days of Radio One in 1967, and before that had been influential on pirate station Radio London.
During that defining era of the disc jockey, this Wirral-born champion of alternative music stood out as a true independent spirit, and this remained the case throughout a distinguished career.
In time he also built a reputation as a journalist, writer and Radio Four presenter, but it is as a champion of under-represented music that Peel is today most sorely missed.
From early leanings in psychedelia and prog through to an early embrace of punk and new wave, reggae, hip-hop, indie, hardcore, metal, electronica and dance, his was a broad church.
A fact not lost on those behind a series of seven October events in Preston to mark the anniversary of Peel’s passing.
The Twang Club Peel all-dayer on Saturday, October 26, is perhaps the pivotal point of that septet of showcase gigs paying tribute to the former John Ravenscroft.
Topping the bill that day are ‘80s indie darlings The Primitives, and guests include The Wolfhounds, and two acts who played Preston’s own mid-80s indie venue, the Twang Clubbe – Yeah Yeah Noh and The Nightingales.
Happening at The Continental pub and the Pavilion Cafe in nearby Avenham Park, Twang Club Peel promises to be a true commemoration of the DJ and all he stood for.
The all-dayer and the other six shows are the work of Tuff Life Boogie, whose past events at The Continental have also included further Peel favourites Wire, The Pastels and The June Brides.
What sets the October 26 event apart from the rest, though, is that it is not only part of a nationwide schedule to mark John Peel Day, it is also a tribute to a long-gone local venue.
Enrico La Rocca for the promoters, said: “In towns like Preston the Peel show was perhaps even more important than in bigger places like Manchester. If it wasn’t for Peel championing these bands, we might never have known about any of them.”
This is Rico’s third Peel tribute series, the first in 2011 headlined by The Nightingales – their second Tuff Life Boogie visit to the Conti – and the second led by The June Brides.
Last year’s events also boasted a fine bill led by Emma Pollock (ex-Delgados) at the Night and Day cafe and Gulliver’s in Manchester. This year the events are all back in Preston.
The Twang Club bill also includes Fork Eyes (ex-Bogshed), Baboon, King Champion Sounds and The Lovely Eggs, ‘90s Preston acts Big Red Bus and Dreamland, and Chorley’s Taser Puppets.
The other gigs are no less impressive, including appearances by The Monochrome Set, Emma Pollock, The March Violets, and Flesh for Lulu.
Memories will be rekindled for those who recall bands like The June Brides and The Pastels playing the Twang Clubbe all those years ago.
Those earlier gigs took place at the Caribbean Club on Kent Street, and although the club only ran for around a year, many emerging talents appeared. The fading flyers are a virtual who’s who of Peel bands, including The Janitors, Big Flame, Tools You Can Trust, The Age of Chance, It’s Immaterial, and future BBC 6 DJ Marc Riley with his band The Creepers.
Rico added: “The Twang Clubbe was very important to this area, and there were many memorable nights there.
“The June Brides, for example, appeared just a week after they were on the front page of the NME .
“The club was started by Dave Hindmarsh, the name taken from his band, Twang, and a lot of great bands played there in a relatively short space of time between 1985 and 1986.
“He moved to Leeds with his job then.
“I was part of a group who took it over as the Rumble Club, but we never quite matched those days.”
Rico added how Dave Hindmarsh had a ‘one rule – no New Order’ rule for those manning the decks at the club’s indie disco.
Fellow regular Damian Carthy recalled the club’s 1985 Xmas party, when the bill included Twang and Potteries-based ‘top entertainer’ and cult ‘droll’comedian Ted Chippington.
In a poignant footnote, Damian added: “The Caribbean Club, where the club was based, is now an Indian grocer’s shop, with the stage now the meat counter.”
But like its main inspiration, John Peel, it’s clear that a generation of Preston indie music lovers will always look fondly back on the Twang Clubbe.
Full Un-Peeled line-ups for this October:
Clinic, Poltergeist, Blue Orchids, Alien Ballroom – Saturday, October 12 (at The Ferret, Fylde Road)
Endless Boogie, Ten Benson, 12 Mar Bars – Sunday, October 13
The Downliners Sect, The Carbon Manual, Pink Peg Slax, Vincent Black Lightning – Saturday, October 19
Nic Jones & Joseph Jones, Trembling Bells with Mike Heron, Emma Pollock – Sunday, October 20
The Monochrome Set, Would-be-Goods, Rapid Pig – Tuesday, October 22
Twang Club Peel:
The Primitives, The Lovely Eggs, Yeah Yeah Noh, The Nightingales and more – Saturday, October 26
The March Violets, Flesh for Lulu, Inca Babies, John Hyatt (Three Johns) – Sunday, October 27
For ticket details – with limited early bird tickets available at £10 – contact The Continental on 01772 499425, Preston’s Action Records on 01772 884772, or call in, or buy online via wegottickets.com
When those run out, remaining tickets will be £15 and available at the above outlets plus Preston Tourist Information (Guild Hall Box Office), seetickets.com, ticketline.co.uk and skiddle.com
There is also a seven-gig season ticket on offer for £50.
For more details go to the Tuff Life Boogie page on Facebook or The Continental’s website.