It is a lot in music to do something to be remembered. For all the raw talent, hours of inner struggle, and denial of outward success – only a handful ascend to that vaunted list. Most of the reasoning is often rooted in a single statement. However, what about those who like workmen put their lives into their work because they simply love it? Their notions are reflected in the people around them (that are too often not of their choice) and their love of the craft emerges in how they welcome others and never dominate the spotlight.
Peter Green's history is filling giant shoes (he replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers) and having taken the Bluesbreakers rhythm section to form Fleetwood Mac (which not only originally carried his name on the crest but added second guitarist Jeremy Spencer's name to it.) It was 1967, change was in the air and Fleetwood Mac (strangely without John McVie) managed to keep their debut on the charts for over a year.
Like Cream and the countless other bands moving away from the British Blues Boom into British Rock, Fleetwood Mac's formula was mixing revamped Blues songs and their originals. However, it was Green that stepped out as a principal songwriter. In addition, it was Green who became the voice with vocals so authentic and a warm tone so sweet that reviews said: "the South Side of Chicago is on notice."
What happened next are the struggles of any band for identity. Christine Perfect (later McVie) joined for "Mr. Wonderful." Jeremy Spencer grew distant and was joined by Danny Kirwan, leading to another stylistic leap forward. Green put in more time on improvisation and on 1969's "Then Play On," their sound transcended its original Blues basis to encompass Latin rhythms and Pop in "Oh Well (parts 1 and 2)." Even in the run up to "Then Play On," Green scored a UK #1 for the Mac with a meditative instrumental ("Albatross.")
As most bands coped with illicit drug use, so did Fleetwood Mac. Green's growing use of LSD separated him from the band. He cranked out one last single "The Green Manalishi (with The Two Prong Crown)" about the perils of money and how it separated the band – and disappeared. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Green continued to record while struggling with bouts of mental illness. His former band rose to stratospheric heights, with their success making Green largely a footnote.
Green is anything but that. As the mighty Mac's legend has grown, so has that of Green. Every copy of "Rumours" and the like down the list at least has a built-in component of wanting to hear more. To start from the beginning is to hear just how Green steered the band through tumultuous waters in the ‘60s. When they could have been any other Blues band, they were not because Green sang with such passion and purity.
When he did play guitar, his style continues to influence guitar players today in how it can be both cutting and smooth. In past years, guitarists have sought his records out to study and imitate. He greeted and welcomed them all with love and humility, a love and humility that can be heard forever and ever in those recordings that are his legacy and light to the world.