18th February 2021
A belated tribute to this English guitar legend whose passing I only recently read. Music fans will know Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, by name if nothing else, but not so many will be aware of Peter Green.
There are many video bios on YouTube and this is a good, short introduction:
In 1966, Eric Clapton was THE guitar hero; graffiti around London proclaimed, ‘Clapton is God.’ When Eric left John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the new guitarist would have a near impossible task. Yet Peter Green, Clapton’s replacement, achieved it, with many fans regarding his guitar work, and the subsequent LP, just as good as the iconic predecessor. Some would say better.
During this time, Peter met drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, and when he decided to form his own band, he named it Fleetwood Mac. The group started out as Blues band, but as Peter’s songwriting developed, other musical styles evolved, even English Classical Music ( Vaughan Williams was said to have inspired ‘Oh Well Part 2’).
However, after such hits as ‘Albatross’, ‘Man of the World,’ and the aforementioned ‘Oh Well’ Peter became increasingly unhappy with the music business, the fame, the money (all of this is covered in the Fleetwood Mac biographies). The situation was compounded with drug use, culminating in the notorious Munich party (not Berlin as mentioned in the otherwise excellent Guitar Historian YouTube video) after which, according to his friends and bandmates, he was never the same.
Peter left the band (which by 1969 was selling more than The Beatles & The Rolling Stones combined) and released a solo LP in 1970, ‘End of the Game.’
The record is a massive departure, being a series of edited jam sessions (the cuts are quite evident in places), and is not recommended as an introduction to his work.
Following the release Peter suffered mental illness, being diagnosed schizophrenic, became a recluse and grew his nails making guitar playing impossible. Finally, he entered a psychiatric hospital and had electroconvulsive therapy the merits of which are still debated.
In the late 1990s, Peter began playing again, and was encouraged to form the Peter Green Splinter Band.
I saw this band in KBs Malmö, Sweden, a venue with a capacity of 750. The club was barely half full. Eric Clapton used to play up to ten nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall, with a capacity of 5,200.
Although it was amazing to see a rock legend, I felt quite depressed, comparing how Peter used to look, how he used to play, how his life could have been very different. As far as I remember, he didn’t even speak during the show, and even stood towards the back of the stage, as if he were the backing guitarist.
Be that as it may, we still have the music from John Mayall and the early Fleetwood Mac years. For an introduction, try this LP.
Some individual songs, on YouTube (at least in my region):
Man of the World: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GPR848mhIs&ab_channel=Beat-Club
Black Magic Woman:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRu7Pt42x6Y&ab_channel=rowfant123
Now a song I’m trying to learn (I apologise to my neighbours):
Goodbye, Peter … thanks for the music xo