Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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GREEN, Peter

(b Peter Greenbaum, London, 29 October 1946) Singer, songwriter and superb guitarist who replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall's band, left with Mick Fleetwood to be a founder member of Fleetwood Mac and (like Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd) became a drug casualty. The original Fleetwood lineup's problems began in California '68 when they were pressed to try LSD by legendary drug proselytizer Augustus Owsley Stanley III and had bad trips; the following spring Stanley spiked drinking fountains at a venue in New Orleans; on a European tour their drinks were spiked in Munich by wealthy dilettante fans.

Green had come from a warm but overprotective family and had suffered from anti-Semitism; his song 'Trying So Hard To Forget' on the Fleetwood album Mr Wonderful had been about his childhood in Whitechapel, and 'The Green Manalishi' '70 was about money: under the influence of drugs Green fell prey to guilt and religious confusion. He left Fleetwood and made a contractual solo album The End Of The Game '70 but his demeanour was completely shambolic. He came back '79-81 on the small PVK label in London with albums In The Skies, Little Dreamer and What'cha Gonna Do; he played with bands Kolors, Katmandu and White Sky (albums on Headline, Nightlife, Creole), and then quit playing entirely.

An intelligent, witty and modest man with few regrets, he remained a legend; with friends looking after him he was playing and recording again '96 but claimed to eschew the blues. In his first interview in a decade he told Cliff Jones (in Mojo 9/96), 'I'm a bit too young for the blues, really ... I could do it at 22 but that doesn't mean I was any good ... Buddy Guy and Willie Dixon won't listen to me. They don't need to.' Yet B. B. King allegedly said that Green was the only white guitarist who ever sent shivers up his spine; and The Peter Green Splinter Group Album '97 on Artisan was followed by The Robert Johnson Songbook '98.