Next to Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, he was the third great virtuoso of the electric guitar in the 60s: Peter Green became famous with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, founded Fleetwood Mac and gave the world song classics like "Albatross" and "Oh Well". In 1970, after little more than three years, he left the band and only appeared sporadically in the spotlight after that. An obituary for a mentally unstable genius who was one of the greats of the classic rock era.
It is hard to imagine what would have become of this man with his sensitive fingers if he had finished the butcher apprenticeship he had begun. The excursion into the bourgeois working world, however, remained a brief intermezzo in the life of Peter Allen Greenbaum, because the 15-year-old soon put the butcher's knife aside in order to devote himself entirely to the guitar from then on. It was to lead him into the clear heights, but also into the darkest abysses.
Apart from one pandemic of a special kind, whose vectors, be they Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis or their forerunners such as Muddy Waters, B. B. King, Howlin' Wolf and Ray Charles, infected numerous English teenagers at the time: rock 'n' roll. Greenbaum learned his first guitar chords at the age of ten. When he finished school, he got his first taste of stage air. He has already shortened his last name to Green. After he was successful in various amateur bands, things finally got moving for the now 19-year-old in the summer of 1966 - Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Who were the spearhead of British pop: In the band Peter B's Looners, founded by keyboardist Peter Bardens, he met the spindly 1.96-metre giant Mick Fleetwood. Green will soon be moving on, but Fleetwood is to join his destiny in a decisive way
In August '66 Eric Clapton leaves John Mayall's band, and the otherwise rather shy, introverted Green forces himself upon the Bluesbreakers boss as his successor. He gets the job and succeeds in convincing Mayall's blues community. His tone is less spectacular, his licks are not quite as fast as those of "Slowhand", but he cultivates an amazingly mature, soulful, melodic style. The special thing about Green's playing is that he shades the notes with subtle vibrato as well as a lot of sustain, so that they resonate forever. He provides his licks with the finest dynamic nuances and has a remarkably tasteful intonation. Added to this is his feeling for the right note in the right place. He does not need many. On "A Hard Road" (1967), the only album Green recorded with Mayall, he shines with the instrumental piece "The Supernatural", in which he plays his unique B. B. King-trained style in a masterly manner. King himself will say only a few years later about this white boy: "He had the sweetest guitar tone I'd ever heard and was the only one that made me break out in a cold sweat."