Peter Green (born Peter Allen Greenbaum, 29 October 1946, in Bethnal Green, London) is a British blues-rock guitarist and founder of the band Fleetwood Mac.
A figurehead in the British blues movement, Green inspired B. B. King to say, "He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats." Green's playing was marked with a distinctive vibrato and economy of style, as well as a unique tone from his 1959 Gibson Les Paul. - a result of the guitar's neck pickup magnet being reversed to produce an 'out of phase' sound. He used a Fender Stratocaster on the track Albatross, and used a National resonator guitar on Oh Well Part I.
Green played lead in Peter Bardens' band, Peter B's Looners, in 1966. After a three month stint, he had the opportunity to fill in for Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers for three gigs. Upon Clapton's permanent departure not long after, he was hired full-time.
Green made his full album debut with the Bluesbreakers with A Hard Road. It featured two compositions by Green, "The Same Way" and "The Supernatural". The latter was one of Green's first extended instrumentals, which would soon become a trademark.
In 1967, Green decided to form his own blues band, and left Mayall's Bluesbreakers after appearing on just one album (just as Clapton had done).
The name of Green's new band was Fleetwood Mac. Originally billed as "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac"; it originated from the band's rhythm section that consisted of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. In the late 1970s the re-organised band topped the charts with mainstream pop/rock, but initially it was a straight-up blues-rock band playing blues classics and some original material. Green wrote the song "Black Magic Woman" that was eventually picked up by Santana. Green was the leader of the group throughout their initial period of success in the late 1960s, when their hits included "Oh Well", "Man of the World", "The Green Manalishi" and the British Charts #1 hit, "Albatross". Following the release of "Albatross" and consequent rise in fame, Green struggled spiritually with the band's success and being in the spotlight. While touring Europe and after a gig in Munich, Germany, Green went on a three day LSD fuelled binge. In his own words, he "went on a trip, and never came back".
Communard Rainer Langhans mentions in his autobiography that he and Uschi Obermaier met Peter Green in Munich, where they invited him to their "High-Fish-Commune". They were not really interested in Peter Green. They just wanted to get in contact with Mick Taylor: Langhans and Obermaier wished to organize a "Bavarian Woodstock". They wanted Jimi Hendrix and "The Rolling Stones" to be the leading acts of their Bavarian open air festival. They needed the "Green God" just to get in contact with "The Rolling Stones" via Mick Taylor.
Green's personality changed drastically after the episode: he began wearing a robe, grew a beard, and wore a crucifix on his chest. His use of LSD may have been a contributing factor to his schizophrenia. He quit Fleetwood Mac in 1970, performing his final show as a member on 20 May 1970. He recorded a jam session The End Of The Game and faded into obscurity, taking on a succession of menial jobs. It was during this period that Green sold his trademark 1959 Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard to Irish guitarist Gary Moore.
Green had a brief reunion with Fleetwood Mac when Jeremy Spencer left the group (Green flew to the USA to help them complete the tour) and he was also an uncredited guest on their 1973 Penguin album on the track "Night Watch". He also appears on the track "Brown Eyes" from 1979's Tusk.
Green has been institutionalised in the past with psychological problems and he underwent electroconvulsive therapy in the mid-1970s. Many sources attest to his lethargic, trancelike state during this period. In 1977, he was arrested for threatening his accountant, Clifford Davis, with a rifle, but the exact circumstances are the subject of much speculation, the most popular being that Green wanted Davis to stop sending money to him. After this incident he was sent to a psychiatric institution in London. This was prior to his re-emergence as a recording artist with PVK Records in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He suffered a relapse in 1984 and effectively lived the life of a tramp-like recluse for six years until he was rescued by his brother Len and his wife, going to live with them in Great Yarmouth and regaining some of his former health and strength.
Urged by his family and friends to resume playing, he resurfaced in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a series of albums, including In the Skies, Little Dreamer and White Sky. Although of inconsistent quality, these albums nevertheless contained glimmers of Green's unique blues styling and signature sound. He was also an uncredited guest on "Brown Eyes", from the Fleetwood Mac album Tusk; contributed to "Rattlesnake Shake" and "Super Brains" on Mick Fleetwood's solo album, The Visitor. Despite some attempts by Gibson at a German trade show to start talks about producing a Peter Green signature Les Paul, Peter's instrument of choice at this time was in fact a Gibson 'Howard Roberts' Fusion, very often seen accompanying him on stage in recent years. This appears to be a great favourite of his. A 1990s comeback saw Green form the Peter Green Splinter Group, with the assistance of fellow musicians including Nigel Watson and Cozy Powell. The Splinter Group released nine albums between 1997 and 2003. It was in the latter part of this period that Peter picked up a black Gibson Les Paul again. Peter signed and sold this ebony Les Paul.
A tour was cancelled and recording of a new studio album stopped in early 2004, when Green left the band and moved to Sweden. Shortly thereafter he joined The British Blues All Stars, but their tour in 2005 was also cancelled. Green has said that the medication he takes to treat his psychological problems makes it hard for him to concentrate and saps his desire to pick up a guitar; whether there will be any more public ventures remains to be seen.