We are delighted to announce that musician, campaigner, writer and activist, Billy Bragg will give the second annual John Peel Lecture at this year’s Radio Festival in Salford on Monday 12th November.
The BBC Radio 6 Music John Peel Lecture with 7digital is a keynote speech given by a leading figure in music and/or broadcasting. Taking its inspiration from one of the greatest radio broadcasters of all time, the John Peel Lecture aims to discuss and create insight into music and music-related media from the past, present and future.
Following in the footsteps of last year’s inaugural speaker Pete Townshend, Billy Bragg will explore how the pirates of radio become mainstream and in what ways broadcasters should reflect that. The lecture will be followed by a Q&A session.
Billy said: “John Peel gave me my first big break in return for a biryani and he was always hugely supportive of my work. He was a complete hero to the music industry and I’m delighted to be asked to speak at the event in his honour.”
John Peel is remembered as one of Britain’s most loved broadcasters. His dry wit, disregard for authority, and devotion to new music in all its forms has left a lasting impact on music and the radio industry. He started his broadcasting career at pirate station Radio London before joining the first DJ line-up when the BBC launched Radio 1. His late night music programme championed countless previously little known music artists, including Pink Floyd and The White Stripes and he promoted new talent using his famous Peel Sessions, ensuring airtime was available for aspiring, sometimes unsigned artists right up until his death in 2004.
Billy Bragg was inspired by punk and his first album Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy was released in 1983. Fired by politics, Billy saw his music as a platform from which to offer listeners a different perspective on events and he is often defined by his political songs. In 1992, Woody Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, approached Billy with the idea that he put new music to lyrics that her father had written in Brooklyn in the 1940s. The resulting album, Mermaid Avenue, was released to great acclaim in 1998, followed by a second volume in 2000. Both were nominated for Grammy Awards and this year sees the release of a third volume of tracks from the original sessions to mark the centenary of Woody’s birth.
Bob Shennan, Controller, BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music, comments: “6 Music is a place that combines free-thinking and musical expertise, so it feels very much like a natural home for the John Peel Lecture. I’m proud that we can continue John’s legacy to inspire conversation about music and that Billy – an icon of British music whose outspoken views are sure to spark debate – will take centre stage for this special occasion.”
Clive Dickens, Chair of the Radio Festival, said: “Billy will deliver a thought-provoking and fascinating lecture drawing from his diverse musical background and life experiences throughout his 30 years in the industry.
“John Peel was at the forefront of introducing listeners to new music and new artists and Billy Bragg was among them. The Lecture is a great way to pay tribute to a man who changed the structure of music radio through innovative programmes which were delivered with humour and an obvious passion and dedication to music.”
The Radio Festival will take place between 12th and 14th November at The Lowry, Salford Quays. Other speakers at the Festival include Global Radio’s Richard Park, Fru Hazlitt from ITV, sports broadcaster Adrian Chiles, Absolute Radio’s Frank Skinner and BBC Radio 1’s Ben Cooper and many more.
To buy your tickets for the Radio Festival, just click here.