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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 15:28 GMT
Thousands mourn Peel at funeral
John Peel's coffin
Peel's coffin was applauded as it entered and left the cathedral
The funeral of legendary DJ John Peel has taken place, attended by thousands of mourners from around the world.

Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey and The White Stripes were among mourners, while Sir Elton John left a wreath of yellow roses.

Applause greeted Peel's coffin as it departed St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, to his favourite song, Teenage Kicks by the Undertones.

Peel died last month after suffering a heart attack while on holiday in Peru.

Some 3,000 people are at the service

His wife, Sheila, was with him when he died.

With Sir Elton's wreath was a card reading: "Thank you for all the great music. You were a hero for so many. Much love, Elton."

Fellow DJs Mark Radcliffe, Annie Nightingale and Paul Gambaccini - who gave a tribute - were also at the service, along with singer Billy Bragg.

BBC Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt was also there, along with the BBC's deputy director general, Mark Byford.

Some 1,000 people were inside the cathedral, while up to 2,000 others listened to the service outside via loudspeakers.

Sir Elton John left a wreath outside the cathedral
Peel's real name of John Ravenscroft was given on the order of service, which contained a quote from the reggae band Misty in Roots.

It read: "When we trod this land, we walk for one reason... to try to help another man think for himself.

"The music of our hearts is roots music, which recalls history, because without the knowledge of your history, you cannot determine your destiny: the music about the present, because if you are not conscious about the present, you're like a cabbage in this society."

'You are with Walters'

Gambaccini started his tribute by talking about Peel's producer and friend, John Walters, who died in 2001.

The response to John's death has been absolutely overwhelming
Alan Ravenscroft, John Peel's brother
"Sheila told me that just half an hour before you passed away, you said, I miss John Walters, I wish I'd spent more time with him when he was alive.

"And now you are with him, probably talking about us, talking about the time I got up off the table at Ronnie Scott's, taking the tablecloth with me."

He added: "You broke more artists then any broadcaster in this history of radio.

"Every artist once needed a John Peel - some of the people who paid tributes to you were Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin and Elton John."

Alan Ravenscroft told the congregation of his "extraordinary brother".

He said: "John was always the same person. The response to John's death has been absolutely overwhelming. It made me think of Princess Diana to be honest with you."

'Fabulously lucky'

Peel died on a working holiday in Peru last month
The service ended with clips of Peel talking about his life - before the Liverpool FC anthem You'll Never Walk Alone faded into Teenage Kicks.

Peel could be heard saying: "I'm fabulously lucky, I've got everything I wanted as a kid, a house in the country, an astounding wife, and a job on the radio. I don't know what could be done to improve it.

"If I drop dead tomorrow, I'll have nothing to complain about - except that there'll be another Fall album out next year."

A private family service followed the funeral.

Music champion

Jarvis Cocker
John Peel gave Jarvis Cocker's band Pulp their big break
Tributes poured in from thousands of listeners as well as musicians and fellow broadcasters when Peel died.

"We have taken great comfort in recent weeks from the messages of support that we have received from around the world," Peel's widow Sheila and their four children said in a statement.

"John was loved by so many for a multitude of reasons. To us he was a loving husband, father and above all friend. We are going to miss him terribly."

Peel joined Radio 1 upon its launch in 1967, and championed the careers of countless up-and-coming acts, gaining a global reputation through his work on the BBC's World Service.

Bands even played for Peel at his home near Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, Suffolk.

Jack White
Jack White: The White Stripes were championed by Peel
He later swapped tales of family life on Radio 4's Home Truth's programme.

"Every time I think of John I'm reduced to tears at the thought of never sharing a Glastonbury night with him again - that I can never turn on the radio and through his show be part of his world again," said BBC Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley, who was at the service.

"I adored John and can't believe how much it hurts to have lost him. He was a one-off who inspired me greatly in the ways of music and family. I miss him now and always will."




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