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Fleetwood Mac Guitarist Peter Green Dies at 73

Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac
Peter Green performing on in May of 1983. CC BY SA 2.0. Credit: Zoran Veselinovic

Peter Green, original guitarist and founding member of Fleetwood Mac, has died at the age of 73. At the time of this writing, no cause of death has been revealed.

“It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Green announce his death this weekend, peacefully in his sleep,” reads a statement from his family published by the BBC.

Peter Allen Greenbaum was born October 29, 1946 in London, England. He picked up guitar at a young age and began playing professionally by the time he was 15 years old. In October 1965, Green filled in for Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, taking on the gig full time when Clapton left in July 1966. The following year, Greeen left the group to form his own blues band.

It was then that Green joined up with Mick Fleetwood and drummer Jeremy Spencer to form “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac”. The group signed to the Blue Horizon label and released their eponymous debut album. While the band was known for its blues covers and blues-style originals, Green’s songwriting began to flourish and their following album, Mr. Wonderful, spawned the Green-penned hits “Black Magic Woman” and “Albatross”.

After Fleetwood Mac released their third album Then Play On with Warner Brothers’ Reprise Records, Green left the group. He had begun using LSD and was experiencing changes in his state of mind. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in psychiatry hospitals during the 1970s.

In 1988, Green said he was “recuperating from treatment for taking drugs” and began to re-emerge professionally. He released several solo albums, contributed to Mick Fleetwood’s 1981 solo album The Visitor and even made an uncredited appearance on Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk album. In the late 1990s, Green formed the Peter Green Splinter Group, releasing nine albums between 1997 and 2004. In 2009, Green returned to touring again, this time as Peter Green and Friends.

Peter Green was ranked at #58 by Rolling Stone on its 1000 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He was praised by the likes of B.B. King who said Green “has the sweetest tone I ever heard” and Eric Clapton. He has been cited as an influence on the likes of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Gary Moore, and Radiohead’s Noel Gallagher. His songs have been recorded by Santana, Aerosmith, the Black Crowes, Tom Petty, Judas Priest and more.

Green was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Fleetwood Mac in 1998.

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