Personalities | Peter Green | Fleetwood Mac’s Founder | Guitar Heroes

Blues-rock guitarist Peter Green was born Peter Greenbaum in Bethnal Green, London in 1946. He began playing guitar at the age of 10. Among his early influences were Hank Marvin, Muddy Waters and B.B. King.

After Green played bass in several semi-pro outfits, keyboardist Peter Bardens invited him to play lead in his band. Three months later, he joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, initially filling in for Eric Clapton for three gigs and becoming permanent when the guitarist left altogether. Replacing Clapton, of whom he was a great admirer, was a formidable task, but Green quickly established himself, developing an economical, sweetly melancholic style on his favoured Gibson Les Paul. His album with The Bluesbreakers, Hard Road (1967), contains two Green compositions, including the instrumental ‘The Supernatural’.

Originally billed as ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’, his next band utilized Bluesbreakers’ rhythm section Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass), with Jeremy Spencer (slide guitar, vocals) and Green on lead guitar and vocals. Debut album Fleetwood Mac (1968) was a mix of blues classics and original material. Mr Wonderful (1968) was straight-ahead blues, recorded live in the studio. Additional guitarist Danny Kirwan joined shortly before the 1968 No. 1 single ‘Albatross’, which showcased Green’s stately, mournful blues playing.

Green struggled with fame and success, and his personality changed after a three-day LSD trip. He began appearing onstage in long robes, wearing crucifixes, and demanded that the band give all their money away to charity. After the chilling ‘Green Manalishi’, which seemed to address his mental struggles, he left Fleetwood Mac in May 1970. After an experimental jam session was released as a solo album, The End Of The Game (1970), Green disappeared, taking a succession of menial jobs, undergoing electroconvulsive therapy and spending time in mental institutions. He re-emerged as a recording artist in 1979, but suffered a relapse in 1984, living like a tramp for several years until rescued by his family. He made another comeback in the 1990s in the Peter Green Splinter Group, making nine albums up to 2003, but then took a break, stating that his medication was affecting his concentration and ability to play. He has since resumed touring as Peter Green And Friends.

Essential Recordings

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers: Hard Road

Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac: Mr Wonderful

Peter Green Splinter Group: Peter Green Splinter Group

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