When I was in high school back in the mid-60s, my favorite rock groups were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, as well as the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. When I went off to college in 1966, my taste in music changed. I became a huge fan of Bob Dylan, the Kinks and Fleetwood Mac. Not the Fleetwood Mac that became very popular 15 years later, but rather Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac. You see, although the band is named for the drummer and bass player, it was originally a Peter Green sub-band. How Peter lost that band is a very tragic story which I will tell in just a few minutes.
Fleetwood Mac from 1967 to 1970 was predominantly a blues band. In fact, had Peter Green not suffered his “tragic accident”, I think Peter would be discussed in the same breath with Eric Clapton as the greatest British blues guitarist. To see what I mean, click here. The first song you will hear is “Black Magic woman.” Most people associate that song with Santana hat I mean, go to YouTube and search “Fleetwood Mac live 1970.” But it was Peter Green who wrote this song and Fleetwood Mac who originally recorded it. To this day, Fleetwood Mac’s version is still my favorite version.
An interesting side story here. Fleetwood Mac and Santana were inducted into the rock ‘n roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Peter was inducted with the band, but did not perform with them. When Santana performed at that introduction, they did, obviously, “Black Magic Woman.” What else would you expect them to do? What was really cool about that performance was that they included Peter Green on guitar. It was Santana who acknowledged the contributions of Peter Green to rock music. Not Fleetwood Mac!
Probably my favorite Fleetwood Mac song from back then is “Oh Well.” Guess where I got the title for this post? 🙂 Pay particular attention to the lyrics. They will give you a good clue as to my particular outlook on life: “don’t ask me what I think of you. I might not give you the answer you want me to.” Also, I won’t ask you what you think of me because, to be brutally frank, it makes no difference to me what you think of me. I am what I am. Take it or leave it. No skin off my nose.
Anyway, I promised to tell you the story about Peter Greens “tragic accident.” According to the official story, Peter had been doing more and more LSD and had been getting “strangely” spiritual. In 1970, he supposedly went to a commune in Germany where, I guess, he did a fair amount of acid. It seems he did not want to return to England, but rather stay at the commune. Supposedly, Mick Fleetwood (the band drummer) and John McBie (the bands bassist) went to Munich to bring Peter back. He shortly thereafter left the band.
Peter Green’s increasing spirituality created a certain amount of tension within the band. Peter became more and more opposed to his increasing wealth and suggested that the band donate their money to charitable causes. Apparently, that did not sit well with one or two of the other members of the band.
In the mid-1970s, Peter Green underwent psychiatric “therapy,” which included electroshock therapy. If you had ever seen the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest,” you know what kind of affect that has on people. Peter became quite lethargic and somewhat removed from reality after that therapy. Gee whiz! Why am I not surprised?
I am somewhat of a conspiracy theorist. I wonder whether Peter’s leaving the band and his psychiatric therapy were not forced on him because of his non-materialistic attitude. It is an interesting coincidence that the band, without Peter, changed their style of music to a more commercially palatable sound. One that made them a lot of money. Coincidence? Maybe, but then maybe not. There have been rumors throughout the years of a possible reunion with the band, but nothing has really materialized, although Green supposedly has played on several tracks on various Fleetwood Mac albums, often without being credited. More food for thought.
Anyway, both Fleetwood Mac and Santana were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame the same year. The fact that Peter Green performed with Santana rather than Fleetwood Mac speaks volumes. I leave it at that.
Peace, love, and rock ‘n roll!