With little over three weeks to go until Fleetwood Mac’s big Wembely show, on Monday I decided that it was time for my personal preparation to begin. Having always enjoyed the obvious stuff – The Chain, Rhiannon, Everywhere, Little Lies, etc. I thought it important to investigate beyond my “Best Of,” CD and so decided to dabble in the listening of some of their full, real albums.
What I have found is that it’s their early Bluesey stuff that really sets them apart: the songs written pre their mainstream success by early bad members, in particular Peter Green. Prior to Fleetwood Mac, Green replaced Eric Clapton as lead guitarist in one of his first bands The Bluesbreakers. These were tough shoes to fill as Green was immediately going to have to deal with Clapton comparisons. However, to the surprise of many, through only his musical ability he was able to override these pressures and establish himself as a formidable talent in his own right. For a period of time after that, the musical world was his oyster.
My brother who is a fervent guitar player will back me up when I say that Peter Green provides Fleetwood Mac with something spectacular. Their first self titled album – Fleetwood Mac, released in 1968 was an edgy, no frills blues album as was their second album Mr Wonderful. Like The Rolling Stones, Green’s Fleetwood Mac set out proclaiming their undying love for the Blues. However, these albums stay more true to their pledge than any Stones album. In order to put Green’s talent into perspective we need only look at B.B King’s (one of Green’s greatest influences and the ULTIMATE Blues legend,) opinion of him :
” He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”
Although Green was clearly very much in love with The Blues, for him it was never binding as a genre of play. After accomplishing as much as he could as a pioneer of the English Blues movement, he set out to develop an individual and progressive sound for his band, such as can be heard in their albums “English Rose,” “Then Play On” and the live “Boston Tea Party album.”
Unfortunatley when most people speak of Fleetwood Mac today it are the names of the band’s pop icons such as Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks that enter conversation, whilst Peter Green goes unmentioned. From “Albatros,” to “Black Magic Woman,” to ” I Need Your Love so Bad,” to “Oh Well,” Green provided Mac with his haunting singing voice and some of the dreamiest melodies and most outrageous guitar riffs in the history of British music.
Like many music legends, his (acid induced) fate was a cruel one and after being diagnosed with Schitzophrenia in the late seventies he has been in and out of mental instututions ever since. In light of this, I doubt he will be joining the rest of the surviving members for the get together that I will be viewing at the end of October, although I’m sure that many of his songs will be played. So I put to all of you- continue to listen to Fleetwood Mac, love their music, but remember Peter Green a true guitar hero.