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Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac Guitarist, Dies at 73

Green co-founded the classic band along with Mick Fleetwood, Jeremy Spencer and John McVie

Peter Green, the British guitarist who co-founded the seminal rock band Fleetwood Mac, has died at age 73.

“It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Green announce his death this weekend, peacefully in his sleep,” according to a statement from his attorneys, Swan Turnton.

The London native helped found Fleetwood Mac in 1967 along with drummer Mick Fleetwood, guitarist Jeremy Spencer and bassist John McVie. He left the group three years later amid mental health issues, including a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Nonetheless, he had a lasting influence on the band and its early days — even as Danny Kirwan joined as a third guitarist in 1968. He was among the eight band members — together with later arrivals such as Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham — who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

A gifted guitarist noted for his use of string bending and vibrato, Green also wrote some of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest early hit singles, including “Albatross,” “Black Magic Woman,” “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown),” “Man of the World” and “Oh Well,” one of the few songs from the band’s early days that remained a staple of its live shows long after Green had left the band.

He was the leader of the group in its days as a blues-based band, drawing on blues playing he had honed in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, a seminal British blues band in which he replaced Eric Clapton. After three years in Fleetwood Mac, he became increasingly disinterested in continuing to play pop and rock music. While Green and his band had been moving away from blues during his tenure there, Fleetwood Mac went in a far poppier direction after his departure, particularly after Buckingham and Nicks joined in 1975.

Green recorded sporadically after leaving Fleetwood Mac, and even made guest appearances with that band a couple of times. He made a handful of solo albums in the 1980s and then recorded a number of old blues songs in a new group, the Peter Green Splinter Group, in 1997.

A documentary about Green’s music and his troubled life, “Peter Green: Man of the World,” aired on the BBC in 2011.

In February of 2020, Mick Fleetwood organized a tribute concert to recognize Green and his legacy. “I wanted people to know that I did not form this band — Peter Green did,” Fleetwood explained in an interview with Rolling Stone. “And I wanted to celebrate those early years of Fleetwood Mac, which started this massive ball that went down the road over the last 50 years.”

After his death, Green’s work was celebrated on Twitter by a wide variety of guitarists and musicians, including Billy Idol, Steve Van Zandt, Gene Simmons, Robyn Hitchcock, Jason Isbell, Rory Gallagher and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett.

Steve Pond contributed to this report.