Billy Bragg delivered the second annual John Peel Lecture earlier today (November 12) at the Radio Festival 2012 at The Lowry in Salford.
Bragg’s speech saw him rallying against the decline of state educated musicians in the UK Top 40, highlighting a magazine study which revealed that 80% of artists in the charts in 1990 were state educated, as compared to the charts in 2010 which were dominated by those who had been privately educated.
He said – via The Guardian: “A decent education in the arts will only be available to those able to pay for it.”
He continued: “The prime minister went to Eton; the archbishop of Canterbury went to Eton; the Mayor of London went to Eton: even the man they tell me is the new Billy Bragg – Frank Turner – went to Eton.
“Now you may be thinking here he goes – middle-aged Clash fan railing against the state of modern music. I don’t have anything against those who were sent to private schools by their parents – Peel himself went to Shrewsbury Public School and Joe Strummer went to Westminster. And my only real criterion when it comes to music is whether or not song moves me. This issue here is not one of social class, but of access.”
Bragg went to talk about the success of Jake Bugg. “When Jake Bugg got to Number One, it made national news headlines – why? Because he never went to stage school nor graduated from the Brits Academy. He didn’t enter Britain’s Got Talent, not submit himself to the humiliations of The X Factor. Because he’s just an ordinary kid from a state school.
“Should that make him an exception? I don’t think so. I can’t believe that there aren’t plenty of articulate teenagers out there with an ear for a good tune and a chip on their shoulder who have something to say.”
Last year’s inaugural John Peel Lecture was given by The Who‘s Pete Townshend.
The Radio Festival takes place from November 12-14. For more information visit radioacademy.org