Long before Fleetwood Mac turned into a monster pop band with the addition of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, it was conceived as a British blues band. Guitarist Peter Green loved the blues and blues rock, joining John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers when Eric Clapton decided he’d rather be in Cream. That gig lasted two years before Bluesbreakers drummer Mick Fleetwood thought they’d do better on their own. Another Bluesbreaker vet, John McVie, was also recruited.
The world’s first exposure to Fleetwood Mac was a self-titled debut record in 1968. It was followed by a standalone instrumental single written by Green called “Albatross.” It reached number one on the British charts.
Green also found time to write a song called “Black Magic Woman,” which was covered by Santana. He made some nice coin from that.
But after three albums, it was apparent that Green had some serious mental issues. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic and spent time in several institutions. By 1970, he was out of the band and living in a commune. He also declared he no longer needed any personal possessions.
However, he couldn’t give up music entirely, recording solo (there was an instrumental record entitled End of the Game in 1970) and dropping back in to Fleetwood Mac. His mental issues continued, though. After trying electro-convulsive therapy, he threatened his accountant with a rifle in 1977. Green wasn’t able to release another solo album until 1979.
Things did get better. Starting in 1996, he performed with the Splinter Group, which explored the classic blues canon. He’d been touring off-and-on ever since.
Green died this weekend at home with his family. He was 73.