He was barely out of his teens when he got his first big break in 1966, replacing Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers — initially for just a week in 1965 after Clapton abruptly took off for a Greek holiday. Clapton quit for good soon after and Green was in.
British rock and blues guitarist Peter Green, left, a founding member of Fleetwood Mac, performs with his own band, Peter Green’s Splinter Group, at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill Saturday, April 7, 2001, in New York. Guitarist Peter Stroud is at right. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
In the Bluesbreakers he was reunited with Mick Fleetwood, a former colleague in Peter B’s Looners. Mayall added bass player McVie soon after.
The three departed the next year, forming the core of the band initially billed as “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac featuring (guitarist) Jeremy Spencer.”
Fleetwood Mac made its debut at the British Blues and Jazz festival in the summer of 1967, which led to a recording contract, then an eponymous first album in February 1968. The album, which included “Long Grey Mare” and three other songs by Green, stayed on the British charts for 13 months.
The band’s early albums were heavy blues-rock affairs marked by Green’s fluid, evocative guitar style and gravelly vocals. Notable singles included “Oh Well” and the Latin-flavored “Black Magic Woman,” later a hit for Carlos Santana.
Peter Green: Fleetwood Mac Co-founder Dies At 73. Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac The 1998 San Diego Street Scene San Diego, CA September 11, 1998. Scott Weiner/MediaPunch /IPX
But as the band flourished, Green became increasingly erratic, even paranoid. Drugs played a part in his unraveling.
On a tour in California, Green became acquainted with Augustus Owsley Stanley III, notorious supplier of powerful LSD to the The Grateful Dead and Ken Kesey, the anti-hero of Tom Wolfe’s book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”
“He was taking a lot of acid and mescaline around the same time his illness began manifesting itself more and more,” Fleetwood said in 2015. “We were oblivious as to what schizophrenia was back in those days but we knew something was amiss.”
“Green Manalishi,” Green’s last single for the band, reflected his distress.
In an interview with Johnny Black for Mojo magazine, Green said: “I was dreaming I was dead and I couldn’t move, so I fought my way back into my body. I woke up and looked around. It was very dark and I found myself writing a song. It was about money; ‘The Green Manalishi’ is money.”
In some of his last appearances with the band, he wore a monk’s robe and a crucifix. Fearing that he had too much money, he tried to persuade other band members to give their earnings to charities.
Green left Fleetwood Mac for good in 1971.
In his absence, the band’s new line-up, including Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, gained enormous success with a more pop-tinged sound.
Green was confined in a mental hospital in 1977 after an incident with his manager. Testimony in court said Green had asked for money and then threatened to shoot out the windows of the manager’s office.
Green was released later in the year, and married Jane Samuels, a Canadian, in 1978. They had a daughter, Rosebud, and divorced the following year. Green also has a son, Liam Firlej.
Green returned to performing in the 1990s with the Peter Green Splinter Group.
In 1998, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with other past and present members of Fleetwood Mac.