Glastonbury 2023: why has the John Peel Stage been renamed? New name and sexual abuse claims explained

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John Peel Stage has been renamed for Glastonbury Festival in 2023

Glastonbury Festival has renamed its John Peel Stage for this year’s event.

Co-organiser Emily Eavis told the Guardian earlier in 2023 it would now be called the Woodsies Stage. She said: “We’ve had 20 years of John Peel and it’s been an honour to use his name.”

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The big top venue was called the New Bands Tent until 2004 when it was renamed after the BBC DJ and presenter, who often fronted the broadcaster’s coverage of the Somerset event, following his death.

Peel, whose real name was John Ravenscroft, died in 2004 from a heart attack aged 65. In the 1980s, he was a presenter on Top Of The Pops, and he also helped launch the careers of many musicians and bands, including David Bowie, Queen and The Sex Pistols.

Why was the John Peel stage renamed?

The arena will be called the Woodsies Stage for Glastonbury’s 2023 edition. The change of name comes as part of a push to name stages after the fields they are located in, such as West Holts and Silver Hayes.

Emily Eavis said the move was not related to a recent petition, that attracted less than 2,000 signatures, which called for the change due to Peel having married a 15-year-old girl when he was 25. The marriage was legal at the time in Texas, where they wed.

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Eavis added: “I haven’t got involved in that because it’s not our area. We’ve had a really good relationship with the Peel family and everyone’s on board.”

The John Peel stage will be remained for 2023. Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty ImagesThe John Peel stage will be remained for 2023. Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
The John Peel stage will be remained for 2023. Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Who was John Peel?

Born in Chesire in 1939, he was a disc-jockey who started out on off-shore pirate radio. He was one of the first DJs on BBC Radio 1 when it launched. Peel, whose real name was John Ravenscroft, was the longest serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs. He broadcast on the channel from 1967 until his death in 2004.

He died suddenly following a heart attack while on a working holiday in the city of Cusco in Peru. Glastonbury renamed the New Bands Tents to the John Peel stage in honour of his legacy after his passing.

What are the accusations against John Peel?

Accusations of sexual abuse led to a petition calling for the Glastonbury stage to be renamed. The festival denies that the reason for changing the name to the Woodsies Stage is due to the petition.

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Started on, user Jack O wrote: “The John Peel stage at Glastonbury is long overdue being renamed, considering the serious sexual abuse he has been accused of and even admitted, against women and children.

“It’s a slap in the face to sexual abuse survivors, women, children and decent people to have to stand in a stage with his name on it, which has the sick words 'teenage dreams so hard to beat' written on the side.

“Please rename it for the next years festival. He’s been put up on pedestal for too long.”

Among the accusations against Peel include one stemming from his first marriage to Shirley Anne Milburn, who was 15 at the time while he was 25. It was the legal age for marriage in Texas at the time.

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John Peel. (Photo by Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)John Peel. (Photo by Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
John Peel. (Photo by Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In a 1989 interview with The Sunday Correspondent, a short-lived British weekly newspaper, Peel said: "Girls used to queue up outside. By and large not usually for shagging. Oral sex they were particularly keen on, I remember. [...] One of my, er, regular customers, as it were, turned out to be 13, though she looked older.."

In an interview with The Herald published shortly before his death in 2004, Peel said: "A lot of girls did come round to the flat that I lived in, a shed at the bottom of somebody's garden which had been slave quarters in a previous century. They used to queue up outside, and sometimes they wanted to snog someone from England.

"But frustratingly, American girls of that period - as they do now, actually - had this strange notion of virginity as a tangible thing which you surrendered to your husband on your wedding night, as though it was something that could be kept in a drawer wrapped in silk. So they'd do anything except shag you. They'd give you a blowjob before they'd shag you."

He is then paraphrased as follows: "There were, he admits, an awful lot of those girls who were under age.”

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