Peter Green, blues guitar great and co-founding member of Fleetwood Mac, has died at the age of 73. Green’s family confirmed the sad news on Saturday, July 25th in a statement to the BBC, “It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Green announce his death this weekend, peacefully in his sleep. A further statement will be provided in the coming days.”
The British blues guitarist had his first big break in 1965 when, at just 19 years old, he was asked to replace Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Mayall recognised brilliant potential in the young player, telling his producer at the time, “He might not be better [than Clapton] now. But you wait… he’s going to be the best.”
Two years later, Green and fellow Bluesbreaker, drummer Mick Fleetwood, formed their own band, recruiting bassist John McVie – another former Bluesbreaker – and guitarist Jeremy Spencer into the line-up that Peter Green graciously named Fleetwood Mac. “Peter was asked why did hecall the band Fleetwood Mac,” Mick Fleetwood said in a 2017 interview. “He [Peter Green] said: ‘Well, you know I thought maybe I'd move on at some point and I wanted Mick and John [McVie] to have a band.’ End of story, explaining how generous he was.”
In a statement via Rolling Stone, Fleetwood has reflected on the loss of his friend and musical collaborator, saying: “For me, and every past and present member of Fleetwood Mac, losing Peter Green is monumental! Peter was the man who started the band Fleetwood Mac along with myself, John McVie, and Jeremy Spencer. No one has ever stepped into the ranks of Fleetwood Mac without a reverence for Peter Green and his talent, and to the fact that music should shine bright and always be delivered with uncompromising passion!!!”
In a separate statement, he thanked the Hall of Fame guitarist their life-long musical journey. “Peter, I will miss you, but rest easy your music lives on. I thank you for asking me to be your drummer all those years ago. We did good, and trailblazed one hell of a musical road for so many to enjoy. God speed to you, my dearest friend.”
Stevie Nicks also paid tribute to Green on Saturday following the news of his Passing. Nicks didn’t join Fleetwood Mac until five years after Green’s departure and never had the opportunity to play with him, but described his songs as a driving influence on her decision to join the fold.
“I am sorry to hear about the passing of Peter Green. My biggest regret is that I never got to share the stage with him. I always hoped in my heart of hearts that that would happen,” Nicks wrote on Twitter.
“When I first listened to all the Fleetwood Mac records, I was very taken with his guitar playing. It was one of the reasons I was excited to join the band. His legacy will live on forever in the history books of Rock n Roll. It was in the beginning, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and I thank you, Peter Green, for that. You changed our lives.”
Peter Green led the original bluesy incarnation of the band, often referred to as ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’ from their 1967 debut up until the dawn of the 70s. In that time, the band released three albums – 1968’s self-titled debut, 1968’s Mr. Wonderful and 1969’s Then Play On. Their debut album gave them an early run on the charts, but it was a non-LP single, the Green-penned instrumental titled, 1968’s “Albatross” that catapulted them to the number one spot on the British charts for the very first time. Follow-up single “Man of the World” peaked at number two, and Green’s “Black Magic Woman,” showcasing his smooth gravelly voice and intoxicating blues licks was a hit for both Fleetwood Mac and Santana who released his own version years later.
Fleetwood Mac | “Black Magic Woman”
However, as the band’s success was growing, Green’s mental health was deteriorating. He left Fleetwood Mac in May 1970 to spend time on a commune, free from the material goods and wealth which plagued him with guilt. He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent treatment in psychiatric hospitals. Despite these setbacks, he continued to record music, releasing six solo albums through 70s and 80s and performing in numerous compilations. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, along with eight other past and present members of Fleetwood Mac.
In February this year, Mick Fleetwood curated a tribute show to honour the band’s founding guitarist. Peter Green’s legacy was celebrated by peers who double as fans, including David Gilmour, Billy Gibbons, Pete Townshend, Steven Tyler, Neil Finn and many more. Fleetwood said in a statement at the time: “I wanted people to know that I did not form this band … Peter Green did. And I wanted to celebrate those early years of Fleetwood Mac, which started this massive ball that went down the road over the last 50 years.”
Adding, “Peter was my greatest mentor and it gives me such joy to pay tribute to his incredible talent. I am honoured to be sharing the stage with some of the many artists Peter has inspired over the years and who share my great respect for this remarkable musician.”
Peter Green is widely considered to be one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time, by many of the greatest blues guitarists of all time. Listen to Peter Green on Spotify:
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