DJ John Peel's long lost "Festive 50" of top tracks of 1977 has been reconstructed as part of the new definitive history of his show THE PEEL SESSIONS, to be published by BBC Books on 4 October 2007. The rundown presents a startling snapshot of Peel's personal view of a year when music changed for ever, with punk and reggae elbowing out the rock legends.
The first ever Festive 50 poll of his listeners' all-time favourite tracks was broadcast over Christmas 1976, but with everything changing in 1977, Peel and his producer John Walters decided not to run a poll that year. Instead, Peel chose his own favourites, but presented it as a 'Festive 50' chart rundown anyway. The Top 13 are well-documented, but the full chart is the "Forgotten Fifty", remembered only in fragments by even diehard listeners.
Prompted by queries and tip-offs from fellow members of the John Peel News Group on Yahoo, author Ken Garner reconstructed the chart from a combination of listener diaries & off-air tapes, and the programme scripts kept on microfilm at BBC Written Archives, Caversham. "Even though he referred to it on air as the Festive 50, Peel clearly chose 60 personal favourites from across the year to spin again, plus The Sex Pistols' 'God Save The Queen' cheekily thrown in as an extra at the start", he says: "The track was still banned at the BBC in Silver Jubilee Year ? although Peel had of course played it twice before the ban was imposed ? and you can imagine the furore if he had drawn attention to it by 'placing' it. This way he sneaked it in with no-one noticing." Although no chart placings are given on the scripts, it was possible to count backwards from the number one at the end of the final countdown show. "The Forgotten Fifty as a whole in its range and order is very much like the nightly Peel shows of the time in its mixture of old and new, the fashionable alongside the uncool" says Garner, "with some giveaway Peel running-order jokes, like following The Boys with The Yobs."