Fleetwood Mac founding guitarist Peter Green dies, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was 73

During Green’s tenure in the band, Fleetwood Mac produced three iconic albums, and a series of well-loved tracks including ‘Albatross’, ‘Black Magic Woman’, and ‘Oh Well’


                            Fleetwood Mac founding guitarist Peter Green dies, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was 73
Peter Green. (Getty Images)
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Fleetwood Mac co-founder and influential blues-rock guitarist Peter Green has died aged 73. Solicitors from the law firm Swan Turton, acting on behalf of Green’s family, said in a statement, “It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Green announce his death this weekend, peacefully in his sleep. A further statement will be provided in the coming days.”

Fleetwood Mac was formed in July 1967 in London, England. Green, who was previously part of the British blues band John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers left and joined drummer Mick Fleetwood -- with whom he’d worked with in two other bands, Peter B's Looners and Shotgun Express -- along with guitarist Jeremy Spencer and bassist John McVie. In fact, Green named the band after Fleetwood and McVie (Mac was short for McVie), which in its early days was called Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. 

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But Green’s stint in the band wasn’t a long one. He left the group following a final performance in 1970 amid mental health issues. Green was diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) during the mid-1970s.

Drugs also played a big part in Green’s increasingly erratic and paranoid behavior prior to his departure. “He was taking a lot of acid and mescaline around the same time his illness began manifesting itself more and more,” Fleetwood said in 2015. “We were oblivious as to what schizophrenia was back in those days but we knew something was amiss.”

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Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, and John McVie. (Getty Images)

In an interview, Green, speaking about his mental health, said: “I was dreaming I was dead and I couldn’t move, so I fought my way back into my body. I woke up and looked around. It was very dark and I found myself writing a song. It was about money; ‘The Green Manalishi’ is money.”

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Nonetheless, Green’s contribution to the Band cannot be overstated. During Green’s tenure in the band, Fleetwood Mac produced three iconic albums, and a series of well-loved tracks including ‘Albatross’, ‘Black Magic Woman’, and ‘Oh Well’.

“Peter was asked why did he call the band Fleetwood Mac. He said, ‘Well, you know I thought maybe I’d move on at some point and I wanted Mick and John (McVie) to have a band.’ End of story, explaining how generous he was,” said Fleetwood in a 2017 interview.

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Earlier this year in February, Fleetwood honored Green with a concert. The stellar performances, which benefited the charity Teenage Cancer Trust, were held at London Palladium and included appearances by Steven Tyler, Neil Finn, David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Billy Gibbons, Christine McVie, Bill Wyman, Kirk Hammett, Noel Gallagher and more.

Fleetwood described the event as “a celebration of those early blues days where we all began and it’s important to recognize the profound impact Peter and the early Fleetwood Mac had on the world of music.” He said, “Peter was my greatest mentor and it gives me such joy to pay tribute to his incredible talent.” 

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He added, “I am honored to be sharing the stage with some of the many artists Peter has inspired over the years and who share my great respect for this remarkable musician.”

B.B. King once said Green “has the sweetest tone I ever heard. He was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”

Peter Allen Greenbaum was born on October 29, 1946, in London in a Jewish household. He began playing professionally by the age of 15. He first played bass guitar in a band called Bobby Dennis and the Dominoes. He got his first big break in 1966, replacing Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

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In 1998, Green was among the eight members of Fleetwood Mac, including Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, Christine McVie, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.