Friday, February 04, 2005

Late, but Still True

I did not note at the time the passing, last year, of two of power pop's most ardent advocates: Greg Shaw and John Peel. Both used their influence to push for wider awareness of the genre, and wider distribution for the artists.

There are a series of nice reminiscences about Shaw over at by known and not-so-known writers he worked with, or published, or influenced. As Mark Boudreau notes:
To me though, the most impressive legacy of Greg Shaw was the inspiration that he gave to other people, often total strangers. In reading the numerous tributes far and wide on the Internet, it is astounding to see how many people Greg inspired to either start a band, buy a particular record, support a particular group, or be introduced to a new genre of music, be it garage rock, punk, power pop or some weird psychedelic drone rock hybrid that nobody else had heard of. He inspired all kinds of people to start record labels, rock and roll clubs, and fanzines to spread the good word that, yes, rock and roll is still alive and thriving all over the world in great local scenes, just bubbling under the mainstream and you should get up off your ass and go check it out for yourself. He encouraged music lovers to do something and not to just passively consume. When I e-mailed him and told him that I was inspired to start The Rock and Roll Report partially due to his "Revolution Now!" editorial on the Bomp! web site, he wrote back and expressed some concern that "the real problem is that people would rather be consumers than doers. Even those who say they want to help often don't have a clue how to actually do anything, without being shown step by step." Rock and roll is not, and should not be, a passive activity. We have to go out and create the music, write about it, promote it, and record it if it is to continue to flourish in the little nooks and crannies of our musical world. Greg did it and did it exceedingly well.

They also link to some great graphics from Bomp!.

Peel's passing received considerably more attention.

Well, you get the idea. Not that there aren't various tributes also up for Shaw, but considerably fewer. I credit this to Peel's position as a big fish in a small pond: from his chair at BBC he could reach a huge audience, helping bands make it, and quickly.

Peel's best known to me as the man who broke the excellent Northern Irish pop band The Undertones. I've always had a thing for them:, great, mainstream pop coupled with the seriously bizarre vocal stylings of Feargal Sharkey. One of my Christmas gifts this year was the 2004 documentary Teenage Kicks, which features interviews with the band (though not, alas, together), and lots and lots of John Peel. Reportedly, the Undertones' song "Teenage Kicks" remained his favorite all his life.

Sad passings, really.


Phila said...

I talked to John Peel a couple of times on the phone...he was just an impossibly sweet and friendly and curious man. I was very sad to see he'd died.

NYMary said...

See, now I would have figured you for a Greg Shaw guy for sure, by age and temprament. So much for assumptions...

Phila said...

Well, it's not like I'm gloating that Shaw died! But his particular interests were pretty different from mine. The whole psych/garage thing is lost on me (though there are exceptions, of course).

Peel was just incredibly positive about all kinds of music, and completely lacked any sort of attitude...a real sweetheart.

But a heartfelt RIP to both of 'em, by all means.