On Saturday July 25, the guitar world was rocked by the news of the death of Peter Green, co-founder of Fleetwood Mac and one of the most revered blues guitarists of all time.
Prior to his passing, Guitar World asked a number of star names, as well as its own editors, to name their favorite Peter Green moments - examples of his playing that established his reputation as one of the all-time greats.
So, read on, as we pay tribute to an icon of British blues and beyond.
“Peter Green has some really deep stuff going on. A uniquely gifted guy with a great catalog. His take on Homework is awesome. [He’s] playing and singing his tail off!”
Billy F. Gibbons
“Stop Messin’ Round is as rock-solid a British take on down-home Chicago-style 12-bar blues as ever there was. The six-string guitar work from Señor Green dispenses with frills and reminds me somewhat of the late, great Freddie King in terms of tone and approach.
“Peter, as is widely known, played his now-famed Greeny, a 1959 Gibson Sunburst Les Paul solid body electric that took on a distinctive out-of-phase sound, with that mysterious, magic somethin’ that deepened the undeniable appeal of the Fleetwood Mac sonic experience.
“The sound of the voice is Peter Green’s blues-approved ‘distressed’ delivery insofar as it’s a bit distorted/over-modulated, which makes everything the band created all the more credible – or should it be incredible?
“Green’s stunning vocal and ferocious guitar work, the Fleetwood Mac studio thrust… all have the kind of grit that makes the song as convincing as anything heard in Chicago’s Checkerboard or Pepper’s or Theresa’s back in the day. It’s long been my go-to Peter Green exemplar. The feel is real and the playing is just what the material demands.”
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“Oh Well is one of my all-time favorites from Peter. His voice combined with the guitar riff in that song is amazing.”
“It’s impossible to listen to Fleetwood Mac’s Man of the World without a sense of painful poignancy, given what was to come with Peter very shortly after. The song has a truly desperate, aching beauty that says more about Peter’s life and music than he could have ever possibly known or intended; it’s a guttural cry for help from a soul too sensitive for the success his immeasurable talent propelled him to.”
“The World Keep On Turning is just Peter naked with an acoustic guitar. The whole song basically pedals on an E chord, and the interesting thing is the first solo is very tentative and unsure and great, but then by the time he makes it to the end it’s much more confident. And it’s just Peter’s blues guitar and voice.
“There are other things that Peter Green does that are technically and stylistically probably more exciting, but for me, the human element is the thing that always grabs me. So that’s why this one’s my favorite. And of course there’s that line, ‘The way I love that woman / it’s bound to get me killed.’ That’s hard to beat.”
Jared James Nichols
“To me, The Supernatural [from A Hard Road] is like the classic Peter Green solo. That was my gateway drug into his playing. I would consider it a very simple take on a minor blues, but what Peter did with the guitar and his execution, it was incredible.
“And I would say this song was the first time I heard a Les Paul played with that sort of controlled feedback. It sounds like a violin! When he lays into these feedback notes and they swell with the reverb, it’s just haunting.”
“I know Peter’s a Les Paul guy, but there’s a great video of him playing Need Your Love So Bad and he’s got what looks like a ’57 or ’58 Strat, and he just lays into it. The first time I ever heard strings on a blues was [B.B. King’s] The Thrill Is Gone; the second time was this song. And I was like, ‘Man, what a beautiful marriage.’ It just hit me emotionally and it gives a beautiful sadness to the song.”
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
“I’ve never met Peter Green, but I’ve long admired his playing style, and his tone is something to behold. I specifically think about his style on Black Magic Woman and his tone on The Supernatural and I just have to smile. I know he’s influenced a great deal of really good guitarists.”
“One my favorite Peter Green tracks is If You Be My Baby. Peter’s soulful vocals are surpassed only by his even more soulful guitar phrasing. His guitar tone weeps, whispers, speaks and joyously shouts from the soul. Peter was a huge influence on the player who influenced me the most, Gary Moore. When I hear Gary play the blues, I hear the direct lineage.”
“The Green Manalishi (with the Two Prong Crown) is a wonderfully dreamy, multi-textured version of a spooky, futuristic song. The song’s cool guitar, bass and drum parts make this 1970 recording a timeless gem.”
“I was aware of Peter Green because of Albatross. My brother Phil turned me onto him. That song has a beauty because it’s so simple – it shows the mind of a very thoughtful person who didn’t need to fill the space with a million notes. He just played the song and let the beauty of it be the star.
“My brother and I used to play it for half an hour to open our set. He would take a roaring solo, and I would double the tempo and we’d make it into a kind of Latin thing and then it would come back down to the dum-dum dum-dum dum-dum thing again. It was just so beautiful. And with that major seventh, so irresistible.”
“The solo and fills Peter plays on the Otis Rush tune, So Many Roads, with John Mayall absolutely kills me! His attack, tone and the range of emotion and feel Green channels through his axe drips with classic blues feel and passion. A must-listen. And being a Les Paul player, I would love to have that tone!”
“I would think about Black Magic Woman because the solo is so distinctively ‘Peter Green.’ The song was such a huge hit for Santana that most people don’t know it was written by him, and he’s never gotten the credit he’s due.
“Though Peter wrote and sang most of the Mac’s songs, he didn’t fit into the classic ‘front man’ slot – they were a true jam band and you definitely got the ‘all for one, one for all’ vibe watching them live. And I was thinking to myself, ‘That’s the kind of band I want to be in.’
“For me, that was the template for Aerosmith. For guitar purists, there are some standout recordings from his blues years as John Mayall’s latest ‘find.’ Then Play On is filled with vehicles for Peter finally turning the corner, combining his blues chops with his songwriting.
“If he hadn’t decided, for whatever reason, to leave his guitar and the band behind, Fleetwood Mac was on the verge of making the jump from the Boston Tea Party, the Fillmore and the Fox Theatre in Atlanta to arenas like Led Zeppelin, the Who, etc.”
“I’d be remiss not to begin where Peter’s guitar playing first hit me. I used to sit and try to get the same sustain he gets in the intro to The Supernatural in the hours between school and dinner time. I’m sure my parents loved that! I figure we’re all just lookin’ for that note that’s worth making it last all day.”
“I always thought Peter Green was the great British blues-er. It’s the depth of his playing and his singing, and also his honesty. I think the coolest groove of all time is Rattlesnake Shake, but the lyrics are a little lighthearted. The Green Manalishi (with the Two Prong Crown), however, is astounding.
“It’s groundbreaking if you think about how Fleetwood Mac were basically this incredible but very traditional blues band, and then they went to something like that. Peter Green is broadcasting he’s sinking into mental illness, and it’s almost like a cry for help. It’s tough to listen to, but it’s incredible. He’s taking a blues band and he’s almost becoming prog rock. By the end it sounds like a Yes song.”
“I love Peter’s song Albatross. Instrumentals are like movies for the blind. This one captures an albatross flying above oceans. Big and simple statements with the guitar. Crashing waves on the beach with cymbals.”
“Jumping at Shadows from Live at the Boston Tea Party is my favorite. Peter’s amazing guitar tone rivals B.B. King’s on this soulful rendition.”
Paul Riario (Guitar World)
“As a guitar player, the obvious choice would be Oh Well, a great song wrapped around a killer guitar riff that even Led Zeppelin would have loved to have nicked! But for me, I’ve always marveled at Albatross, a dreamy instrumental that’s reminiscent of Santo & Johnny’s Sleep Walk, with a roaming melody line combined with wide underlying bends that sound like Hawaiian steel guitar playing. It reveals the depth of his guitar playing and influence.”
Jimmy Brown (Guitar World)
“Part John Lee Hooker, part B.B. King and part early Jimmy Page, Oh Well (Pt. 1) is an intensely soulful blues-rock classic that features some of Green’s most inspired and emotive writing and playing. The song’s main guitar riff, which is really kind of a bass riff, has a cool, swampy quality and is super catchy for a variety of reasons.
“The thing I love most about this song, however, is Green’s high-register lead playing, especially his fiercely shimmering finger vibratos. Green is inspired, confident and uninhibited here and holds nothing back as he shakes his strings with all the fury he can muster while at the same time exhibiting complete control over his technique.”
Andy Aledort (Guitar World)
“My introduction to Peter Green was via the Mayall compilation, Looking Back, which I stole from a girl when I was 15 (still slightly guilty). Thankfully the record had detailed liner notes and I could see which tracks Peter played on, and the ones that killed me were So Many Roads, Looking Back (the tone and attack!) and It Hurts Me Too.
“Soon thereafter I picked up A Hard Road, Peter’s debut release filling the ‘God’-like shoes of Eric Clapton. The Stumble is simply brilliant in every way, as is Someday After a While (You’ll Be Sorry). Also of note is the otherworldly The Supernatural, a precursor of classic Green/Mac tracks like Albatross and Black Magic Woman.
Damian Fanelli (Guitar World)
“Someday After a While (You’ll Be Sorry) from Mayall’s A Hard Road is – hands down – my favorite Peter Green solo, not to mention one of my favorite slow-blues solos of all time.
“I love that it magically appears so early in the song, before the one-minute mark; once it’s there, it leaves no doubt that its author can deliver intense, emotional solos that send listeners’ hearts skyrocketing.
“Also – a small thing here – I’ve always loved 1:31, the moment he quickly switches from soloing around the 13th fret to the first fret, as if he’s adding one final, last-minute 'And another thing!' to his well-thought-out manifesto.”