– Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac
Long before Stevie Nicks (a chick) and Lindsey Buckingham (a bloke) joined John and Christine McVie (in many more ways than one) and fifth wheel Mick Fleetwood, there was a band called Fleetwood Mac, writes Seymour Griffiths.
The most magical electric guitar player of his generation, Peter Greenbaum, living in the East End of London, asked blues Leg End John Mayall, if he could ‘sit in’ on Lead guitar for the frequently missing Eric Clapton (off on various quests to create now worlds and defeat Satan or have it away with an Angel or two) and Mayall enlisted Peter, now ‘Green’ (a less Jewish name, though having it never harmed Norman.)
US Bluesman BB King said of Green, “He was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” Peter was fantastic, and Eric wasn’t missed. When Eric returned to earthly duties he found him occupying his position. Mayall dealt with the situation by letting Green go and giving Clapton his old job back; this was OK as Peter had been thinking of forming a band of his own with bass player John McVie, drummer Mick Fleetwood, and slide guitar and occasional singer Jeremy Spencer. This band would be called ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac featuring Jeremy Spencer,’ the only fly in the ointment being that John McVie refused to leave steady employment with Mayall to take a punt with Green. A bass player named Bob Brunning stepped up and played with them at their first gig, at the 1967 National Jazz and Blues Festival, after which they were signed by Horizon Records.
McVie then decided it was safe to join the band, and took the place that had been reserved for him. It is not known how Brunning felt about being given the big E but the name of the band might have prepared him. It wasn’t called ‘Fleetwood Bob’ after all. The band played blues covers and originals written by Peter Green and sometimes Jeremy Spencer. Spencer’s compositions all sounded pretty much the same and every one contained a riff on slide guitar that went, “widdly widdly widdly widdly woo woo.” It bloody did, I’m telling you – go listen. Live acts featured Jeremy cavorting with a giant pink penis named Harold and doing Elvis Presley impersonations.
A Peter Green acolyte named Danny Kirwan joined and the band became simply Fleetwood Mac, and had a succession of singles and album successes. Then the lifestyle, and the facts of life of being in a band began to take its toll and people started leaving. First Peter himself took a mega trip of LSD or Acid and when he came out of it wrote The Green Manalishi (1970.) You have to hear this to get an idea of how good a songwriter / singer / guitarist Peter was.
His second trip on the drug basically destroyed him. Another article in this series will catalogue his demise. Jeremy Spencer left the band to join the Children of God (aren’t we all?) and McVie’s wife, singer / piano player Christine Perfect joined and saved the band; I give her full credit for that. By the time Danny Kirwan had done what singers/ lead guitarists do and left the band, the remaining three tried out a number of guitarists and singers, but again that belongs in another story. To experience the band at its best, listen to Black Magic Woman, Jig-saw Puzzle Blues, Albatross, Oh Well, Man of the World, and a whole album called Then Play On and weep. There is a fantastic back catalogue waiting for you.
It is not known how Brunning felt about his exit but the name of the band might have prepared him; it wasn’t called ‘Fleetwood Bob’ after all.
“Peter Green was the only one who gave me the cold sweats,” BB King.
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