by Robert Wilkinson
Today is the birthday of one of the greatest guitar heroes ever to pick a note, the legendary Peter Green. This guitar genius founded Fleetwood Mac in 1967 and wrote some of the most haunting songs ever recorded, including "The Supernatural," "Black Magic Woman," "Oh Well," and the amazing "Green Manalishi." Enjoy these great videos celebrating the birthday of this master of electric blues.
This is the blues player about whom the legendary BB King said, "He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats." No small praise from one of the greatest blues guitarists in history! Another from the great BB: "Peter Green has more talent in his little finger than I have in my whole body." Some backstory from past posts:
Peter Green replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and recorded the early Mayall masterwork "A Hard Road." He then went on to found Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac with other alumni of Mayall's English blues incubator. This was a different Fleetwood Mac than most know, since they were the height of hard core British electric blues, and not the pop rock and roll group of the mid-70s.
With 3 guitars including Danny Kirwin and the amazing slide work of Jeremy Spenser they forged an entirely different sound altogether. The band was (and are) considered one of the greatest electric blues band ever to come out of the UK. In 1969 Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac sold more records in Great Britain than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Yes, they were THAT good!
I had the incredible experience of seeing Peter play in Austin in December 1969 when Fleetwood Mac opened for Jethro Tull on the latter's "Stand Up" tour, complete with wildman Ian Anderson leaping on stage high kicking in his chequered coat complete with long tails.
It was truly one of the most amazing concerts I've ever seen. That night, Peter was a very long hairy creature in a long white robe, looking like some kind of ancient biblican figure playing a screaming version of electric blues-rock that was stunning in its impact.
For a time I considered Peter the ONLY guitarist who could stand equal to Jimi. This year I'll share a story with you I've never written down before now. I went to Germany and London in the Summer of 1969. My parents had been there a few months before, and given me the name of a guy they'd met who ran a taxi service and "had something to do with the music business."
After my train to London was delayed - can't remember why - I finally got to his flat. He wasn't there but several of his friends were and they let me in to wait for his return. When he came back, I found out he was Fleetwood Mac's manager, and they had been looking for a road manager for their upcoming US tour!
My jaw dropped, and I asked him if they still needed one. He said, yes, but they had left less than an hour earlier to catch the plane to the US. So the train delay prevented me from becoming Fleetwood Mac's road manager for that 1969 tour! I suppose it was all for the best, since Peter melted down on that tour, and I improbably wound up in Austin, Texas via one of my many Twilight Zone experiences. Sometimes destiny seems to work its magic in some very strange ways!
I replaced all of the links no longer good from last year's tribute, and even found some new great videos of live performances. Here is one performance that is beyond great, Fleetwood Mac doing an awesome delivery of the Otis Rush classic "Homework" from 1968 in France. Very kinetic!
From the same show, "My Baby Sweet" ("My Baby's Good to Me") and "Please Find My Baby" (written by Elmore James, it's a reworked version of his legendary "Dust My Broom." The slide work is magnificent!)
Here's an 11 minute clip of the entire performance! Fleetwood Mac Live in Paris New Year's Eve 1968
Here are even more great live performances from one of the greatest blues bands in history. Enjoy!
An historic live show of "Rattlesnake Shake" by Peter and Fleetwood Mac at the Playboy Club probably late 1969. (Hef's sounding erudite!)
Another great live performance of "Rattlesnake Shake" in Helsinki, 14 Sept. 1969.
Probably recorded in late 1967 or early 1968, Fleetwood Mac (in their early incarnation as a 4 piece band) performing “"Heart beats like a hammer" & "Shake your money maker"
A good live performance of Need Your Love So Bad probably also from Spring or Summer 1968 since they were still a 4 piece outfit.
We finish out the performance videos with a few more Fleetwood Mac live performances from the late 1960s,
From "Top of the Pops," 1970, "Albatross"
A great live video of Fleetwood Mac doing Danny Kirwin's "Like Crying" in 1969.
4 minutes of live Fleetwood Mac.
After many years in the proverbial desert, Peter came back to create the Peter Green Splinter Group. Though much different than Fleetwood Mac, and his voice suffered from many years of not performing, they're definitely worth checking out!
This one's really good! From Germany in 1998, here's the Peter Green Splinter Group performing an incredibly beautiful live version of his first classic, The Supernatural.
From the same show, here's a great video of the Peter Green Splinter Group performing his last masterwork, "The Green Manalishi." From Poland in 1996, here's Peter and the Splinter Group doing "The Green Manalishi." Several more fantastic versions of this harrowing self-confessional are at the end of the article.
Here's the Splinter Group doing another of Peter's major hits from his Fleetwood Mac days, a song that inspired Carlos Santana to do his own hit version, "Black Magic Woman."
For your enjoyment, from Amsterdam in 2009, another version of Peter Green and friends doing "Black Magic Woman."
Live in 2009 from Hamburg, Peter Green doing his version of the BB King classic, "The Thrill is Gone."
Here's Peter and friends doing the awesome "Oh Well." at the Bluesgarage in 2009. Here's Peter and friends doing Oh Well and Albatross at the Cornbury Festival 2009. From the same festival, here's more. Here's even more.
From Cork in May 2010, Peter Green and Friends doing a great live performance! I found a few clips, so please enjoy these, since it's pretty much his latest work. Here's the opener, "Pretty Woman." (No, it's not the Roy Orbison song!)
Here they are doing Peter's song on Mayall's "Hard Road" album, "The Stumble."
We close this set with "Sitting In the Rain / Black Magic Woman"
This year I found a real score! Here's 2 hours of pure gold in a live performance of Peter Green & Splinter Group - In Concert 2003 (If it's the same show as some other clips here, oh well. Enjoy the whole set!)
These are audios from the 60s, some live!
Here's the original album version of the first song of his I heard, Peter's soaring composition, The Supernatural featuring Peter playing with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Whether the version above or this one, it's still an extraordinarily haunting blues piece!
All these come from the same 1967 album, "Hard Road."Here's Peter playing his composition "Evil Woman Blues." We follow with Peter playing the JB Lenoir tune, "Alabama Blues," Otis Rush's "Double Trouble," John Mayall's "Another Kind of Love, and the great Marshall Paul blues number, "So Many Roads."
Here's a bit of mastery at a live 1967 show! Peter, John, and the Bluesbreakers doing Freddie King's "The Stumble."
A single from 1967 when Fleetwood Mac were still a 4 piece band, the great Elmore James' "I Believe My Time Ain't Long"
The legendary Robert Johnson number, "Sweet Home Chicago."
At one point, Fleetwood Mac went to the Chess Records studio in Chicago to play with some of the blues greats of all time. Live in the studio, here's "Otis Spann and Peter Green doing "Ain't Nobody's Business." Here they are doing two more, "She's Out of Sight" and "Someday Soon Baby."
Though not written by Peter, this song is still a great piece of work. Here's "Coming Your Way" (Live for the BBC in 1970). Another great version that's totally instrumental, here's Fleetwood Mac doing "Coming Your Way"Live in Boston at the Tea Party. From the same Boston concert, "Jumping At Shadows.
I found a whole concert of live audio. From the Roundhouse Chalk Farm in April 1970, here's Peter's hauntingly beautiful composition "Before the Beginning." From the same show, "Underway," "Coming Your Way" and "Rattlesnake Shake."
Here are audios of a concert in Stockholm on my birthday, 1970! These are some great versions!! For your listening pleasure, "Coming Your Way," and "Loving Kind," and "Albatross." (The rest just took too long to load!)
Here are a few more early Fleetwood Mac songs showcasing Peter's guitar mastery:
The original studio version of "Albatross."
Here's a live audio from Jan 1970 in New Orleans of "Albatross."
A great live audio version from 1970 of "Black Magic Woman."
A fantastic live audio from Boston of "Black Magic Woman."
I found the entire 51 minute Kolors set from Dec 1982 on the German TV show Rockpalast featuring "Peter Greenbaum" (his true name) at the Markthalle, Hamburg. for your enjoyment, Kolors featuring Peter Green at the Rockpalast.
If you don't have time to view the entire show, here's the opening number, a reggae influenced version of Peter doing "Black Magic Woman."
From "Then Play On," the original studio version of "Before the Beginning"
From the 1968 album "English Rose," the studio version of Jigsaw Blues by Danny Kirwin.
For the closer to this set of sets, here’s a rare find! 47 minutes of Peter playing lead for John Mayall in this live show from June 1970.
And now the encore! For your enjoyment, several takes of Peter’s harrowing masterpiece, "The Green Manalishi (with the two pronged crown)," which was its original title.
Here’s a great live performance video from Sweden in 1970 of "The Green Manalishi"
I found a truly amazing 7 and a half minute music video taken from “Fleetwood Mac – The Early Years,” which includes segments of an extended live performance of The Green Manalishi. - A great version of the song, and a good video to boot! Another live version from the “Boston Tea Party” in 1970 here.
Here's the studio version of The Green Manalishi.
A live audio-only 16 minute performance of "The Green Manalishi." His guitar work is unbelievable, so definitely check this out if you want to hear some of the best blues guitar ever played!
To find out more about this remarkable band, here's a brief piece from a documentary on Fleetwood Mac: Crazy Fleetwood Mac
Here's a great 90 minute documentary called Peter Green - Man of the World"
Here’s a long, multi-part history of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac called “The Original Fleetwood Mac.” While all 10 parts are not available, there’s enough here to get a good sense of this remarkable blues band! (Some of the footage duplicates pieces in this article, especially “The Green Manalishi” but it’s still great footage!)
Peter, thanks for showing us all how magical a guitar can be in the right hands! May you have many more years of playing the blues, turning new generations on to the electric magic of a guitar played by a master. Infinite gratitude from your countless fans! You're still an amazing musician. Glad you're with us, and Happy Birthday!
Copyright © 2012 Robert Wilkinson