Peter Green, the singer-songwriter, guitarist, and founding member of Fleetwood Mac, has died at the age of 73. Green’s family announced through lawyers that the musician died “peacefully in his sleep” this weekend.
Born Peter Allen Greenbaum in London in 1946, Green was a renowned blues and rock guitarist, acclaimed by such legendary figures as Jimmy Page and B.B. King, who reportedly said of Green, “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” Green got his first big break in the mid-1960s with the group John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, filling in for Eric Clapton at several gigs before joining the band full-time after Clapton’s departure.
“What I remember about those concerts is that nobody was calling for Eric,” fan Tom Huissen told Guitarist magazine earlier this year. “They accepted Peter straightaway. The way he played — it was just phenomenal.”
After leaving the Bluesbreakers in 1967, Green went on to found Fleetwood Mac with former Bluesbreakers drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Jeremy Spencer, with bassist John McVie joining soon after. Initially billed as “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac featuring Jeremy Spencer,” the band recorded three albums together before Green’s departure from the group in 1971. He penned many of their early hits, including “Black Magic Woman” (later recorded by Santana) and “Oh Well.”
Around this time, Green began heavily using psychedelic drugs, which led to increasingly erratic behavior as his mental health started to decline. Green was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in a mental hospital.
“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.”
Green’s health struggles hampered his musical career, but he continued to record throughout the 1980s, and later formed the blues band Peter Green Splinter Group. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 as a member of Fleetwood Mac.
Green married Jane Samuels in 1978, and the couple divorced the following year. They had a daughter together, Rosebud, and Green also has a son, Liam Firlej.
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