Peter Green, the co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, has died, reports the BBC. According to a statement from his family’s lawyers, the influential blues guitarist died peacefully in his sleep.
Born in October, 1946 in London, Green’s big break came early when he was asked to replace Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. He was only 20 years old at the time. Through the Bluesbreakers, Green reunited with Mick Fleetwood and eventually the two split off, alongside John McVie and guitarist Jeremy Spencer, and formed the first iteration of Fleetwood Mac. At the time the band went by the name John Green’s Fleetwood Mac.
Green’s contributions to the band were both immense and immediate. Led by his emotional and dexterous guitar playing, the band’s self-titled first album reached number four in the U.K. and established the group as leaders of the British blues movement. They followed up quickly with a second album entitled Mr. Wonderful and then released the relaxed and airy instrumental single “Albatross.” To date, the Peter Green composition is Fleetwood Mac’s only number one hit in the U.K. Green also wrote “Black Magic Woman” which later became a major hit for Santa.
Fleetwood Mac recorded one more album with Green, Then Play On, before he departed from the band in 1970 due to his escalating erratic behavior brought on by a decline in mental health. He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent many years in and out of mental hospitals battling the debilitating disorder before eventually staging a successful comeback in 1996 with a new band called the Splinter Group. In 1998, Green was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside seven other past and current members of Fleetwood Mac.
In his acceptance speech, Mick Fleetwood emphasized Green's importance to the band by starting off with a poignant thank you directed toward his old friend. "I would like to thank Mr. Peter Green for forming Fleetwood Mac way back in 1967. Thank you Peter. You left us with a stage that was to continue until today."
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