Peter Green, Peter Allen Greenbaum, was born on 29 October 1946, in Bethnal Green, London. Peter Green is a British blues-rock guitarist and founder of the band Fleetwood Mac.
A figurehead in the British blues movement, Peter Green inspired B. B. King to say, “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” Peter Green’s playing was marked with a distinctive vibrato and economy of style, as well as a unique tone from his 1959 Gibson Les Paul. A result of the guitar’s neck pickup magnet being reversed to produce an ‘out of phase’ sound. Peter Green used a Fender Stratocaster on the track “Albatross”, and used a National resonator guitar on “Oh Well Part I”.
Petr Green played lead in Peter Bardens’ band, Peter B’s Looners, in 1966. After a 3month stint, he had the opportunity to fill in for Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers for 3 gigs. Upon Eric Clapton’s permanent departure not long after, he was hired full-time.
Peter Green made his full album debut with the Bluesbreakers with A Hard Road. It featured 2 compositions by Peter Green, “The Same Way” and “The Supernatural”. The latter was 1 of Peter Green’s 1st extended instrumentals, which would soon become a trademark.
In 1967, Peter Green decided to form his own blues band, and left Mayall’s Bluesbreakers after appearing on just 1 album (just as Eric Clapton had done).
The name of Peter Green’s new band was Fleetwood Mac. Originally billed as “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac”; it originated from the band’s rhythm section that comprised Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. In the mid 1970s the re-organised band topped the charts with mainstream pop/rock, but initially it was a straight-up blues-rock band playing blues classics and some original material. Peter Green wrote the song “Black Magic Woman” that was eventually picked up by Santana. Peter Green was the leader of the group throughout its initial period of success in the late 1960s, with hits including “Oh Well”, “Man of the World”, “The Green Manalishi” and the British Charts #1 hit, “Albatross”.
Following the release of “Albatross” and his consequent rise in fame, Peter Green struggled with success and the spotlight. After a gig in Munich while touring Europe, Peter Green binged for 3 days on LSD. In his own words, he “went on a trip, and never came back.”
Communard Rainer Langhans mentions in his autobiography that he and Uschi Obermaier met Peter Green in Munich, where they invited him to their “High-Fish-Commune”. They were not really interested in Peter Green. They just wanted to get in contact with Mick Taylor; Langhans and Obermaier wished to organise a “Bavarian Woodstock.” They wanted Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones as the leading acts of their Bavarian open air festival. They needed the “Green God” just to get in contact with The Rolling Stones via Mick Taylor.
Peter Green’s personality changed drastically after the episode: he began wearing a robe, grew a beard, and wore a crucifix on his chest (this last despite having been raised Jewish). Peter Green’s use of LSD may have incited his schizophrenia. Peter Green quit Fleetwood Mac in 1970, performing his final show as a member on 20 May 1970. Peter Green recorded a jam session The End of the Game and faded into obscurity, taking on a succession of menial jobs. It was during this period that Peter Green sold his trademark 1959 Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard to Irish guitarist Gary Moore.
Peter Green had a brief reunion with Fleetwood Mac when Jeremy Spencer left the group (Peter Green flew to the USA to help them complete the tour) and he was also an uncredited guest on their 1973 Penguin album on the track “Night Watch”. Peter Green also appears on the track “Brown Eyes” from 1979’s Tusk.
Peter Green was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a mental illness commonly characterised by hallucinations and paranoia, and he spent time in psychiatric hospitals undergoing electroconvulsive therapy in the mid-1970s. Many sources attest to his lethargic, trancelike state during this period. In 1977, he was arrested for threatening his accountant, Clifford Davis, with a rifle, but the exact circumstances are the subject of much speculation, the most popular being that Peter Green wanted Clifford Davis to stop sending money to him. After this incident he was sent to a psychiatric institution in London. This was prior to his re-emergence as a recording artist with PVK Records in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Peter Green suffered a relapse in 1984 and effectively lived the life of a tramp-like recluse for 6 years until he was rescued by his brother Len and his wife, going to live with them in Great Yarmouth and regaining some of his former health and strength.
Apart from his solo work in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he contributed to “Rattlesnake Shake” and “Super Brains” on Mick Fleetwood’s solo album, The Visitor, and recorded various sessions with a number of other musicians. Despite some attempts by Sunburst Gibson at a German trade show to start talks about producing a Peter Green signature Les Paul, Peter’s instrument of choice at this time was in fact a Sunburst Gibson ‘Howard Roberts’ Fusion, very often seen accompanying him on stage in recent years.
A 1990s comeback saw Peter Green form the Peter Green Splinter Group, with the assistance of fellow musicians including Nigel Watson and Cozy Powell. The Splinter Group released 9 albums between 1997 and 2003. It was in the latter part of this period that Peter Green picked up a black Sunburst Gibson Les Paul again. Peter Green signed and sold this ebony Les Paul.
A tour was cancelled and recording of a new studio album stopped in early 2004, when Peter Green left the band and moved to Sweden. Shortly thereafter he joined The British Blues All Stars, but their tour in 2005 was also cancelled. Peter Green has said that the medication he takes to treat his psychological problems makes it hard for him to concentrate and saps his desire to pick up a guitar; whether there will be any more public ventures remains to be seen.
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