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PETER GREEN,
1946-2020

Peter Green, the celebrated British blues-rock guitarist who co-founded Fleetwood Mac with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, has died at the age of 73.

He died “peacefully in his sleep” this weekend, according to a statement from his family. Swan Turton solicitors said a further statement is forthcoming.

Green, who dropped in and out of the music scene over the course of six decades, battled schizophrenia and drug abuse, went through eras when he was a devout Christian and then a devout Jew, and late in life became a steadfast interpreter of the music of Robert Johnson. In 1996, Mojo magazine listed him at #3 among the world’s Top 100 guitarists of all time.

Inspired by Chicago blues guitarists such as Otis Rush and the Texas-born Freddie King, Green blossomed in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers where he replaced Eric Clapton at the age of 20. There he met McVie and Fleetwood and after a single album with Mayall, left to former Fleetwood Mac.

Contributing more than half the originals on Fleetwood Mac's first four albums, Green expanded the Mac’s repertoire beyond blues covers with three songs that hit the Top 10 in England and have come to be classic rock standards: the instrumental “Albatross,” which the current edition of Fleetwood Mac still performs; “Oh Well,” which has been covered by Tom Petty and others; and 1970’s “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown),” his final single with the band. Santana’s version of Green’s composition “Black Magic Woman” would become a Top 30 hit in 1970.

“Manalishi,” Green would say, referred to money and he was intent on abandoning all signs of materialism from his life as he started a solo career. After a single solo album for Reprise, The End of the Game, Green developed psychiatric problems and was treated with electroconvulsive therapy. While Green would later perform with Fleetwood Mac on 1973’s Penguin and 1979’s Tusk, his return to recording and performing under his own name began in 1979 and lasted until the mid-1980s before he went into seclusion.

Green re-emerged in 1997 with The Splinter Group and their 1998 album, The Robert Johnson Songbook, won the WC Handy Award for Best Comeback Album. While he shied away from writing, Green continued to perform as an electric and acoustic guitarist for more than a decade.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 as a member of Fleetwood Mac. 

In February, Fleetwood staged a tribute to Green at the London Palladium that featured performances by the guitarists David Gilmour, Kirk Hammett, Neil Finn, Billy Gibbons, Pete Townshend and Green’s former bandmate Jeremy Spencer.

 

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