David Peel keeping it real, rocking from the streets


Musician David Peel has been performing since the 1960s. With his band David Peel and The Lower East Side and their raw “street” style, he was credited as being a major early influence on punk music. His debut album in 1968, “Have a Marijuana,” sold a reported 1 million copies. John Lennon first saw Peel performing in Washington Square Park and immediately took to his music, going on to produce Peel’s third album, “The Pope Smokes Dope,” for Apple Records, the Beatles’ label. Peel also had a cameo in a scene in Central Park in the movie “Hair.” In 2008, he performed at the 20th anniversary of the Tompkins Square Park riots, leading the crowd in a stirring rendition of “Die Yuppie Scum!” “He’s a neighborhood character, a neighborhood icon,” said documentarian Clayton Patterson. In the photo at right, Peel, seated at center, performed circa 1989 on Cocoa Crystal’s MNN public-access TV show, when MNN used to be on 23rd St. From left were Crystal, an unidentified man, Buzzy Linhardt, Mickey Caesar a.k.a. “The Pope of Pot” and an unidentified guitarist. Below right, Peel performed in Central Park in the 1990’s at a memorial for Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.