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The Undertones to play Stowmarket's John Peel Centre

PUBLISHED: 11:28 13 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:58 14 July 2019

DJ John Peel at his home near Stowmarket Picture: JOHN KERR

DJ John Peel at his home near Stowmarket Picture: JOHN KERR

Legendary band The Undertones are to play a special gig at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket to mark what would have been the broadcaster's 80th birthday.

The Undertones performing at OPEN in Norwich. Photo: Patrick WiddessThe Undertones performing at OPEN in Norwich. Photo: Patrick Widdess

The band got their big break from the much-loved DJ when he championed their iconic song 'Teenage Kicks' on his BBC Radio 1 show in 1978.

The gig takes place on August 30 at the arts centre where his widow, Sheila, is a patron and director and is already sold out.

Centre manager Jane Cox said: "We're absolutely thrilled to have got The Undertones.

"The date would have been John's 80th birthday and we wondered what we could do to mark it, so given the strong connection between John and the band we thought we would give it a go.

The John Peel Centre Picture: MARK LANGFORDThe John Peel Centre Picture: MARK LANGFORD

"Sheila is a patron so we got in touch and asked if they would be up for it, and happily they were."

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John and Sheila lived at Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, and the centre opened after his death in 2004 as a tribute and to continue his life's work championing up-and-coming musical and artistic talent.

One of the original Radio 1 DJs when the station opened in 1967, he played new artists and with his live 'Peel Sessions' gave national debuts to bands that would later go on to become world famous, including Black Sabbath, David Bowie and Queen.

John Peel championed new bands and had thousands of vinyl records Picture: Clifford HicksJohn Peel championed new bands and had thousands of vinyl records Picture: Clifford Hicks

It was in the New Wave era of the late 1970s that he heard 'Teenage Kicks' the debut single of the-then little-known Northern Irish band The Undertones.

He famously adored the track, declaring it as his all-time favourite song and once playing it twice in a row.

After his sudden death from a heart attack while on holiday in Peru the song was played played at his funeral service as his coffin was borne out of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds.

The song's opening line 'A teenage dream, so hard to beat' is engraved on his headstone in the graveyard at Great Finborough church.

The Undertones, then fronted by Feargal Sharkey, went on to enjoy several hit singles in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Sharkey left the band in the mid-1980s and will not be performing with them at the John Peel Centre.

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