Peter Green shunned the guitar-hero status of Clapton, Beck, and Page, but Mick Fleetwood says “he was the guy”

Steve Newton

Sad news for music fans today.

Peter Green, the British guitarist who made a name for himself with his stunning work in the Bluesbreakers and Fleetwood Mac, has passed away at the age of 73.

Long before the pop-minded duo of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham put their radio-friendly stamp on Fleetwood Mac, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie enjoyed the brilliant company of Green in the original blues-based version of the group. When I want to hear the band at its best I’ll toss on 1969’s Fleetwood Mac in Chicago, for which then-guitarists Green, Jeremy Spencer, and Danny Kirwan joined McVie and Fleetwood in some brawling blues jams with the likes of Buddy Guy and Willie Dixon.

Fellow Les Paul specialist Gary Moore recorded a tribute album to him in ’95, Blues for Greeny, and that same year more than 30 musicians banded together to record 28 of his songs on Rattlesnake Guitar: The Music of Peter Green. That disc featured some of the world’s top guitarists performing on the type of Green-penned classics that have been covered by everyone from Santana (“Black Magic Woman”) to Judas Priest (“The Green Manalishi”) to Tom Petty (“Oh Well”).

When I interviewed Mick Fleetwood back in 1997, he told me that Green had recently emerged from a lengthy bout with paranoid schizophrenia.

“He’s playing again, which is all I need to hear,” said drum great Fleetwood, whose history with Green predates even the earliest edition of Fleetwood Mac: the two first joined forces in Van Morrison keyboardist Pete Barden’s Looners and backed the young Rod Stewart in Shotgun Express before rising to prominence in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

Although one of the most influential pickers of all time, Green was also known for shunning the guitar-hero status of his British counterparts Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. When I interviewed Fleetwood again in 2016 I noted that, in his 2014 biography Play On, he’d called Green the greatest guitarist he ever played with. So I asked him if he was surprised that Green never acquired full-blown guitar-god status.

“No,” Fleetwood replied, “because he shunned that type of approach… He was the guy that took over from Eric [Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers] and became every bit as powerful as Eric was at that point. Obviously Eric became a much bigger issue with his world fame and his music, unlike Peter. Peter just stopped.

“He could have run with it and become the super guitar-hero,” added Fleetwood, “but he just wanted to be in a band. And then his illness took him away from any reality of anything at that point. And the rest is history, and you’ll never really know.

“But there’s no doubt that in terms of the power of Peter Green, any one of those guys you’ve just mentioned would have huge deference for Peter Green. That he was ‘the guy.’ They have huge respect for Peter’s work–Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, and Eric. All of them. He was one of the guys that had sort of a semi-tragic story to it, you know, where he just pulled out and we weren’t treated to his magic touch.”

 

To hear the 2016 audio of Mick Fleetwood reminiscing about Peter Green subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

….with hundreds more to come

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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