“It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Green announce his death this weekend, peacefully in his sleep. A further statement will be provided in the coming days,” read a statement from representatives of Green’s family.
Born in October 1946 in Bethnal Green, London, U.K., Green learned to play guitar from his brother Michael before eventually becoming self-taught. He played in several rock and R&B groups before playing lead guitar in Peter B’s Looners, where he met drummer Mick Fleetwood. Both men went on to join John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, from which Fleetwood was eventually dismissed. When Green decided to leave the group in order to form his own band, he enlisted the percussionist.
He Co-Founded Fleetwood Mac
Green founded Fleetwood Mac with Fleetwood on drums and Jeremy Spencer on guitar, initially under the name Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac featuring Jeremy Spencer. The lineup initially consisted of Bob Brunning on bass until Green was able to entice fellow Bluesbreaker John McVie to join.
The initial lineup recorded two blues albums, Fleetwood Mac and Mr. Wonderful, releasing both in 1968. Green and Fleetwood enlisted additional personnel in the form of 18-year-old guitarist Danny Kirwan for the third album, Then Play On. The record would be Green’s last with the musical outfit he’d helped form. Green left Fleetwood Mac in April 1970 and pursued other musical endeavors until 1972, when mental health issues and drug use caused him to take a notable hiatus from the music profession.
He Was Diagnosed With Schizophrenia & Struggled With Drug Use
At some point in the 1960s, Green began to regularly use the hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly called LSD or acid. During one experience with the drug at a commune in Munich, Germany, Green had a particularly bad trip. The band’s manager, Clifford Davis, pointed to this event as one of the key points of Green’s mental deterioration.
“All hell broke loose. I felt dreadful and I realised our drinks had been spiked with acid. They took us out in the garden and we marched round in a procession, and then we went down into a recording studio they had,” roadie Dennis Keane told MOJO, as archived by MusicAfficionado.com.
Fleetwood echoed the sentiments of the group’s manager.
“Pete was whisked out there and spent all his time getting stoned. We never even saw him, except for the gig. To this day, John and I always say that was it. Peter Green was never the same after that,” he told MOJO.
Green spent time in psychiatric facilities during the 1970s, even undergoing electroconvulsive therapy. At one point, as Ultimate Classic Rock reported, he was arrested for wielding a shotgun and threatening to shoot his accountant, David Simmons. Green was reportedly upset that he continued to receive royalty checks for his Fleetwood Mac efforts when trying to move on and pursue a simpler life.
“I was quite happy in prison, so I thought I’d be alright. But they said, ‘You failed the psychiatrist test,'” Green said.