The Black Keys’ John Peel Radio Sessions

Listening to BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe recently interview Dan Auerbach and asking him to visit and do a recording session at the station, reminded me of the late great BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. Zane Lowe is, in some quarters, seen as carrying forward the legacy of John Peel who sadly died in 2004. It’s a weighty responsibility, though they both seem to be big fans, or rather champions of The Black Keys music.

I look forward to The Black Keys next live recording session on Radio 1 in 2010. It’s also perhaps a good opportunity to look back at The Black Keys past BBC Radio 1 live recordings.

In 2003 The Black Keys were more popular in the United Kingdom than anywhere else with the exception of Australia. The reason partly being they could get their records played on radio in those countries. The other was they toured heavily and had the support of people like John Peel on Radio 1, the national youth station. In Australia they were championed by the BBC1 equivalent Triple J radio.

When John Peel died Pat Carney wrote this on The Black Keys’ website on October 26, 2004:

Dan and I are in London right now getting ready for our first show of the European tour which begins in a few hours. It has been a pretty relaxed trip so far but we have some sad news. This morning we did an interview with BBC DJ Zane Lowe and upon arriving back at our hotel were informed that legendary BBC DJ John Peel passed away last night in Peru. John Peel is perhaps the greatest DJ of all time and is responsible for breaking hundreds if not thousands of bands in the UK and around the world. We happen to be one of those bands. Without John Peel, we would have never been able to sell out shows across the UK and our records would never have been played on national radio so often. We were privileged enough to be invited to do three Peel Sessions including one at his home in the English countryside where we met his amazing family and staff. We would like to send our respects to the the Peel family and to his staff. -Patrick

John Peel had long supported new bands. He had an uncanny knack of more often than not recognising quality bands just needing a break. He gave them that opportunity and led with with his appreciation for the new. An important vehicle in presenting those bands was his Peel Sessions, as they becme known.

The Peel Sessions were an opportunity for a band to be recorded live in the radio studio, or Peel Acres – John Peel’s home and alternate radio studio. The quality of the recordings of the bands, who would shortly reach mainstream popularity, has become legend. A John Peel endorsement aided the incubation of a developing band by not only giving them exposure but also the confidence to go forth with his support.

You can listen to the Old Corn Market live Peel Session show below. It’s probably my favourite live recording of The Black Keys. There’s a fantastic intro from John Peel at the start. Even better is his summary of the show at the end of ‘Heavy Soul’ when he returns to the stage and says:

It’s not in my contract to come and speak to you at after the band has played, but I think you’ll agree with me, what is so good about these two, is they just don’t know how good they are.

Never a truer word said.

The Black Keys recorded 3 Peel Sessions including set lists:

20/04/2003  @ Maida Vale 4 Studios

Set You Free
Hard Row
No Trust
The Moan

31/07/2003 @ Peel Acres

I Cry Alone
Have Love Will Travel
No Fun
Them Eyes

28/10/2003 @ Old Corn Market/Exchange

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Listen to Intro here” dl=”0″]

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Listen to Thickfreakness here” dl=”0″]

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Listen to Busted here” dl=”0″]

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Listen to Yearnin’ here” dl=”0″]

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Listen to The Breaks here” dl=”0″]

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Listen to Have Love Will Travel here” dl=”0″]

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Listen to No Trust here” dl=”0″]

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Listen to Heavy Soul here” dl=”0″]

Photo: John Peel