Peter Green, who has died aged 73 was, alongside Eric Clapton, widely regarded as the foremost white blues guitarist of his generation, although he became equally famous as rock’s second-most notable LSD casualty (after Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett).
In 1969, Green’s band, Fleetwood Mac, sold more albums than the Beatles and the Stones combined, and in its first three years the group’s best-known hits were all written by Green. These included Black Magic Woman, which later became a massive hit for Carlos Santana, and Albatross, the dreamy instrumental which went to the top of the charts in 1968 and has featured as the soundtrack of numerous surfing and wildlife films. Both Oh Well and Man of the World reached No 2 in 1969.
Casualty is putting it mildly.
But the 1960s drug culture took a heavy toll, and in 1970 he dropped out of the music scene and plummeted out of sight (though not before writing the haunting The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown), which seemed to document his descent into madness).
For the next 25 years Green drifted in and out of psychiatric hospitals, earning only the occasional reference in the press – as a cautionary tale about the excesses of Sixties rock.
A real loss. The man was one of the greatest guitarists to emerge out of ’60s Britain. Just ask B.B. King.
Critics praised the understated brilliance of his singing and the liquid brilliance of his guitar playing and the pure tone he could coax from his 1959 Les Paul guitar. The great blues guitarist BB King, one of Green’s heroes, whom he had originally set out to emulate, would say of Green: “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”
That is one helluva compliment. Here’s a brilliant example of what King referred to:
Not a wasted note. Here’s one more clip, where the blues are tinged with a little psychedelia.
Sorry to see you go, Peter.