1965-1966 - California dreaming
John Peel loved to throw the rulebooks out of the window when it came to DJing and when he landed a dream job on the West Coast he really started to flex his musical muscles.
In Dallas and Oklahoma he had reluctantly stuck to the playlist, playing popular tracks for screaming teeny-boppers and Beatles fans. But at KMEN in California he began to act like the broadcaster British audiences are familiar with and played pretty much whatever he liked. San Bernardino's location helped too; John was only 60 miles east of Los Angeles - an ideal location for checking out gigs and hanging out with bands. LSD was everywhere, bands like The Yardbirds and The Doors were hot names to drop and Peel was right there in the middle of it all, sucking up music and spinning discs as fast as he could find them.
John said of his time at KMEN:
"I started to play records that I wanted to play. Previously it had been all chart stuff. But I had to do six hours over the weekend and I thought, if I was going to do six hours, then I'm going to play what I want to play. I started to play blues things, Doors, Love, Butterfield Blues Band and Jefferson Airplane. I worked there for 18 months and then ran foul of the law and thought I'd better leave."
Music legend has it that San Bernardino's local sheriff had it in for KMEN and its radical DJs, so, fearing the slammer and possible deportation, John booked a flight under his middle names and flew back to the UK, leaving his American career behind.