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John Peel

Without any shadow of a doubt, the Cuban Boys exist and continue to exist because of the legendary DJ, John Peel.

He was the first person to champion the band, and he remained a loyal supporter before, during and after the Cuban Boys gatecrashed the UK Charts. During the period from 1998 to 2001, any listener of the John Peel Show would be all to aware that the Cuban Boys were a regular feature on the show whether just simply having an email read out, a track played or a session aired.

John Peel and the Cuban Boys were so closely connected that John considered the band as an extended part of his own family, often inviting them along to the live shows at BBC Maida Vale.


Winners of the Festive 50 in 1999

Probably the proudest moment for the Cuban Boys was in 1999 when Cognoscenti Vs Intelligentsia was voted as the most popular tune by the listeners of the John Peel Show in the annual Festive 50 poll. For the band, it was an honour far more precious to them than the dizzy feeling of a Top 5 UK Chart Hit. By sheer chance, it also meant that the Cuban Boys were the last band to be played on BBC Radio 1 in the the 20th Century.

Apart from that poll-winning entry, the Cuban Boys have also graced the Festive 50 on several occasions - usually with tracks which have never been commercially released. That simply explains the relationship the band had with John and his listeners - no great distinction between their an entry which sold over 250,000 copies and one which only existed as a one-off cdr burnt just for John Peel.

The Cuban Boys' last entry was their tribute to John Peel, the much-appreciated noise-fest called 'The Nation Needs You' which featured John himself.




Oh My God! They Killed Kenny - No.6

Cognoscenti Vs Intelligentsia - No.1
Flossie's Alarming Clock - No.28

Vinyl Countdown - No.29
Theme From Prim & Proper - No.34

Drink Drink Drink - No.23

The Nation Needs You - No.33



Blu on the phone to Tony Beard

Visit The BBC Radio 1 Session Pages:

Session 1 - Dec 1998

Session 2 - March 2000

Top 125 Peel Sessions


The Cuban Boys recorded two sessions for the John Peel Show, the first of these was voted one of the Top 125 Peel Sessions of all time by the people who knew John best - his family, friends, studio engineers, producers and musicians.:

RECORDED 06/12/1998

Oh My God! They Killed Kenny
Stardust (Part 3 - Ariana In Space)
Hanging On The Telephone
(Let's Get) Raunchier

Producer - Mike Engles
Engineer - George Thomas
Studio - Maida Vale 3

RECORDED 22/03/2000

From Out Of Nowhere
The Number One Song In Heaven
The Laughing Gnome

Producer - Mike Robinson
Studio - Maida Vale 4


In 1999, the Cuban Boys' enduring popularity with John Peel and his listeners resulted in the band being invited to appear on a special BBC TV documentary which was produced to celebrate John's 60th Birthday.

The documentary featured on BBC2 as part of an entire evening of programmes devoted to John. For their part, the Cuban Boys were interviewed about their special relationship with John and were also shown performing their soon-to-be-famous track Cognoscenti Vs Intelligentsia. This appearance also marked the Cuban Boys first ever tv exposure.

Alongside this, the band were also invited to appear in the John Peel 60th Birthday book, which depicted a host of close family, friends and bands wearing special John Peel Birthday t-shirts.


Cuban Boys on TV
Cuban Boys Interview

John Peel - Original typed notes


After the massive success of the 'Cognoscenti Vs Intelligentsia' single, the Cuban Boys released their debut album 'Eastwood'. The band asked John Peel if he would mind writing some sleevenotes for the album and, naturally, he was only too happy to oblige.

John's words, typed by him on his infamous typewriter, reflected the close bond he had with the band, and also showed how much he understood what they did and why.


The Cuban Boys first met John in the flesh when they went to his wonderful 60th Birthday Party at Peel Acres. The band presented him with a one-off cdr of music as a 'gift of music'. Although pleased with his present, John was somewhat more enthusiastic about having received the framed, hand-written lyrics to 'Teenage Kicks' from the Undertones.

During the party the band also met Sheila and the family, including Flossie who seemed fairly unmoved to meet the band who had created a track, Flossie's Alarming Clock, which sampled the sound of her alarm-clock.

Cuban Boys with John Peel and his stain


John Peel Day

Listen to the John Peel Day Documentary

Visit The BBC Radio 1 John Peel Site

John Peel Day Tracklisting


On the first anniversary of John Peel's last ever radio show, BBC Radio 1 marked the occasion with 'John Peel Day'. Once again the Cuban Boys were asked to provide some input and, amongst other things, Ricardo was interviewed for a radio documentary which was broadcast as part of the Steve Lamacq Show. Radio 1 also devised a new John Peel web area to celebrate the history of the show, again the Cuban Boys provided some assistance.

Cognoscenti Vs Intelligentsia featured in the tracklisting for John Peel Day.

The Cuban Boys also instigated their own campaign to get listeners to download and play their John Peel Tribute 'The Nation Needs You' during John Peel Day.


In July 2003, the John Peel Show ran a competition for listeners to design a badge for the show. Within about an hour, much to the amusement of the Peel Team, Skreen from the Cuban Boys had designed and submitted an entire set of badges.

Much later, in October 2003, Skreen's 'Right Time, Right Place, Wrong Speed' badge was voted the winning design and is even mentioned by John in his autobiography 'Margrave of the Marshes'.

As a prize, Skreen was sent a complete set of all the badges. Woohoo!

John Peel Badge


John Peel - The Nation's Number 1


In 2005, the Cuban Boys returned from an extended sabbatical to record a special tribute to their friend and champion, John Peel - a track called 'The Nation Needs You'.

The track was very well-received by listeners, fans and DJs across the world - but probably the most touching moment was when Phill Jupitus from 6Music described playing it to Emily Eavis on Sunday night at the Glastonbury Festival from his jeep stereo. John Peel would have loved that......

Visit 'The Nation Needs You' Page