Peter Green has died at the age of 73. Given his lifestyle in the 60’s and 70’s, it’s remarkable that he lived that long. For me, he WAS Fleetwood Mac. He famously left the group and went missing and led a something of a hermitic life. He remained that way for the late 70’s, the 80’s and then in 1996, he formed Peter Green’s Splinter Group with Cozy Powell on drums. A tour was announced. It was a small tour restricted to smaller venues. As luck would have it, he was coming to my home town of Dundee to play the Whitehall Theatre on 7th February 1997.
My long-time gig buddy Iain and I were so excited. He may have become known more for his famous disappearance, but for us he was a guitar legend. When he took to the stage that initial gig moment of excitement was immediately diluted by the sight of a very frail looking man. It was heartbreaking. My immediate thought was that he shouldn’t be doing this.
The main guitar playing duties fell to Nigel Watson, Peter Green was relegated to playing rhythm guitar and a few minor lead elements, but it was a struggle for him. And, it was a struggle to watch. Iain and I looked at each other and in unison our shoulders sank. I’ve never felt so sad at a gig. On one hand we were seeing a genuine musical icon, on the other we were watching a car crash. That’s how it felt.
As we left the theatre we were silent. And, it wasn’t just us. There was a collective sense of something approaching pity. I’ve left gigs where people have discussed how much they hated it. Or how disappointed they were. There was none of that here.
As I reflect now it was a privilege to be in the same room as him. His playing abilities that night don’t define him. His legacy is assured. Tonight I’ll listen to ‘Need Your Love So Bad’, ‘The Green Manalishi’ and remember the real Peter Green.
Thanks for the music.
RIP Peter Green.