Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green may never have really understood that he’s one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
Described by BB King as the only guitarist “that gave me the cold sweat” – and referred to as “The Boss” by Mick Fleetwood, Green’s sound was the foundation of his band’s early success.
Known to those who played with him as “The Green God”, it was perhaps blues singer John Mayall who first recognized the scope of his talent and recruited him to replace Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.
After forming the awkwardly titled Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac with Jeremy Spencer in 1967, Green left the band after just three years in the throes of what would later be diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia.
In those years, the band released six UK top 40 singles, including Albatross, Need Your Love So Bad and the purely instrumental Albatross that went to number one in the UK and are still cited by Fleetwood Mac purists as “the real thing “.
Between announcing his departure and actually leaving, Green wrote “The Green Manalishi” – a song Green said about money and the devil.
It included the lyrics, “I can’t believe you need my love so much, you sneak around trying to drive me crazy.”
Green’s fear and aversion to money was one of the main features of his mental illness, and the reason mentioned by many who knew him caused him to leave the band.
Bandmate Fleetwood once recalled Green’s concerns about their growing wealth.
He once said to an interviewer, “I was talking to Peter Green around that time, and he was obsessive about the fact that we weren’t making any money because he wanted us to give it all away.
“And I would say, ‘Well, you can do it, I don’t want to, and it doesn’t make me bad.'”
Peter Allen Greenbaum was born on October 29, 1946 in Bethnal Green, London, to a Jewish family.
The youngest of four children, his brother Michael taught him his first guitar chords – and at the age of 11, Green taught himself.
The 1970s before Green were interrupted by spells in mental hospitals and electrocovulsive therapy courses, which would put him in a trance-like state.
Guitarist Nigel Watson, who worked on a number of records with Green, once said: “Very often, after having had treatment, he came to my brother’s shop where I worked and which was only a hundred yards from the hospital. .
“He stood there for hours with his arms slightly in front and in a trance, telling me how scared he was.”
He was famously arrested in 1977 for aiming a shotgun at his accountant.
RIP Peter Green. One of the absolute hierarchies of the original British Blues Greats. Clapton, Page, Beck and Green. https://t.co/nKBHLcjcwu
– Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) July 25, 2020
Legend has it that Green wanted to stop sending him royalty checks for Fleetwood Mac’s early work, worth around £ 30,000 a year.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Green returned to music – mainly driven by his brother Micheal, who wrote most of his records and helped him find a label.
He also made a number of appearances on Fleetwood Mac recordings – including the 1979 album “Tusk” and the single “Brown Eyes”, as well as a contribution to Mick Fleetwood’s 1981 solo album The Visitor.
Green blamed many of his mental health problems on his experiments with LSD, saying in 1988, “I took LSD eight or nine times.
“The effect of that stuff lasts so long…. I wanted to give all my money away…. I went a little bit holy – no, not holy, religious. ‘
Rolling Stone Magazine ranks Green at number 58 on its “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list, while Mojo Magazine ranks it at number three.
In February of this year, some of his contemporaries and musicians inspired him to host a “Peter Green Tribute Concert” with such artists as Mick Fleetwood, The Who’s Pete Townshend, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Oasis’s Noel Gallagher.
Green himself was not present, it is not even clear whether he knew that the concert was taking place.
Fleetwood said in the late 1990s that he was rarely able to contact his mentor and old friend.
He told the PA news agency, “I spoke to him the last time we played at Wembley Stadium. I told him we were thinking about him and asked him to come along.
“He said no, and I thought he was just about to put the phone down when I heard him say,” Mick, play a great one for me, right? – and it just broke my heart. ‘