A musical giant and a trailblazer in the British blues boom, Peter Green’s influence still resonates. Les Davidson feels the love so bad!
Les Davidson explores the wonderful style of Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green.
Fleetwood Mac founder and former Bluesbreaker, Peter Green was a pioneering musician and guitarist and a key player in the British blues boom of the 1960s. His exquisite touch, taste and passion were revered by his musical peers, and thus Peter has left an indelible imprint on the style of many guitarists who've followed in his wake.
“Peter Green, he has the sweetest tone I ever heard,” said BB King of Green, who was born Peter Greenbaum in 1946 in the East End of London. Like many future guitar heroes his first guitar was a cheap Spanish hand-me-down. With covers band Bobby Dennis And The Dominoes he developed a love for Hank Marvin and The Shadows, and melody would play a huge part in his work from that point on. He went on to play in a variety of groups, including The Muskrats, The Tridents and Peter B’s Looners, where he met drummer Mick Fleetwood.
Green came to prominence with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, on the 1967 album A Hard Road. He was stepping into the space left by Eric Clapton – it was a big ask to fill those shoes, but fill them he did! Peter was a musical force to be reckoned with and it wasn’t long before he left Mayall to form Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie.
Mike Vernon had been Mayall’s producer at Decca records, and when Vernon launched his own Blue Horizon label he was quick to snap up this newly-formed supergroup. Fleetwood Mac’s first two albums, Fleetwood Mac and Mr Wonderful were huge commercial successes, and Peter was rapidly becoming the star of the band. Sadly, psychiatric difficulties forced his early departure in 1970 and has largely thwarted his musical output ever since.
During his heyday Peter Green influenced world giants including Carlos Santana, Gary Moore and Joe Bonamassa, so his style is still heard in the generations of players that came after him – Noel Gallagher cites him as the best British blues guitarist, while Gary Moore said he had the most authentic feel. His impact was acknowledged in 1998 when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with Fleetwood Mac.
Peter plays mainly with a pick and, while his improvisation is steeped in blues, you’ll also hear arpeggio lines, which add an exciting melodic shape to his solos. The two examples here are influenced by the phrasing Peter favoured in early Fleetwood Mac days.
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Peter Green (left) with John McVie. They left Mayall to form Fleetwood Mac