Part of one of the most revered record collections in the world – that of music legend John Peel – was made accessible to the public for the first time (today, 1st May 2012), via a specially created online archive produced by a Stowmarket arts centre, two Norwich companies, and John Peel’s wife and family.
The project, which is part of The Space, a new online arts service developed by Arts Council England (ACE) in partnership with the BBC, released the names, song titles and artwork of 100 records from Peel’s collection, starting with the letter ‘A’, and will release 100 more records every Tuesday for 26 weeks. Never-before seen letters to Peel from musicians are being released exclusively via the project’s social media accounts under the name ‘John Peel Archive’.
An interactive record collection allows users to effectively stand in front of Peel’s records on their shelves and be able to listen to many of these records through links compiled by the project.
The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts (Stowmarket) (project lead), its project partner Eye Film and Television (Norwich), and local website company Klick (Norwich), have been working closely with John Peel’s wife, and family to produce the archive and its content. The project has been funded by ACE with technical support from the BBC.
Sheila Ravenscroft, John Peel’s wife, said:
“We’re so happy that we’re finally making John’s amazing collection available to his fans, as he would have wanted. This project is only the beginning of something very exciting.
“Hopefully people are really going to enjoy having a little bit of John’s collection.”
The archive, which is introduced by a video from Sheila Ravenscroft, John Peel’s wife, also features specially created mini documentary videos of key artistes, Peel’s home movies, his hand-typed note cards, and photos.
A blog and social media will also share further content, keep users up to date with releases, facilitate online discussions, and give an insight behind the scenes of the project.
Tom Barker, Director of John Peel Arts Centre said:
“We’re so excited by this project- it’s such an honour to be able to make John Peel’s record collection available to the public for the first time.
“Throughout the planning process, we have had in our minds that we wanted to do John (and his fans) proud and ensure that the legacy of this legendary man lives on.
“Having Arts Council funding is fantastic and has allowed us to kick-start this project – what we need to ensure now is that we secure enough funding after October to complete the project”.
Releasing the entire contents of the collection is a long term goal for the project, and the project partners will therefore be looking for further funding after October when Arts Council funding finishes.
Charlie Gauvain, MD of Eye Film and TV who coordinating the project, said:
“When we first came up with the idea- it was just that- an idea. Just a few months on, a lot hard work, and late nights later, and we have this fantastic music resource.
“Getting the right team together for this has been key- a lot of people have put in a great deal of dedicated hard work- including John’s family, without whose generosity, the collection wouldn’t be available”
Norwich website company Klik, were commissioned by the project to create the interactive website.
James Leeds, MD of Klik, said:
“We’ve worked closely with John Peel’s family to make sure that the design of the website feels like a little bit of John himself, which we all felt was crucial, since John was such a big part of so many people’s lives in a personal way”.
John Peel’s personal record collection is one of the most important and eclectic modern music collections in the world. The legendary Radio 1 presenter amassed an incredible collection of over 26,000 LPs, 40,000 singles and many thousands of CDs. This is the first time that the public will be able to learn what is in John’s amazing collection.
The John Peel project is one of 53 creative arts projects being funded by Arts Council England with BBC partnership, as part of a new digital arts and culture media service called The Space. People will be able to access the John Peel archive and other creative arts projects on The Space by going to www.thespace.org from May 1st.