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Kulturwerkstatt Melle-Buer - 4 November 2009

Biography Notes


PETER GREEN Biography Notes  


Peter Green: 

Who is Peter Green you may ask? Well have you heard of  Eric Clapton and B.B.King?

B.B. King once told Eric Clapton in person, that Peter Green was a better guitarist than Eric himself was. Peter Allan Greenbaum was born October 29, 1946 in Bethnal Green, London England and by age 15 he started calling himself simply Peter Green. He was the founding member of the Fleetwood Mac Blues Band with John McVie and Mick Fleetwood.  

Peter Green was the best of the best. Having the then unenviable  distinction of replacing Eric Clapton (Clapton Is God) in John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, While Eric went on an extended sabbatical to Greece for three months. Peter not only proved that the very passionate  dissenters were wrong, but Peter left his distinctive mark on that part of blues history, that no one since has been able to erase or alter. The impressionable youth of the day had many music heroes in which to choose from, most of whom are now gone in our present day, and very much missed and loved even more, Their names are engraved in music history books. Many are now supporting head stones in the cemetery of rock, blues and jazz. 

Time, Fate and Causality have encased them all in our hearts and memories for all time. 

Eric Clapton was with the Bluesbreakers during their first recording 1965 – 1966.

Peter was with John Mayall’s  Bluesbreakers for their second recording called “A Hard Road” once again recruited to replace Eric Clapton who joined Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker to form the power trio called “Cream”.  Peter himself left Fleetwood Mac in 1970. He then recorded a solo jam album called “The End of the Game” and also contributed guitar work for a  band called “GASS” featuring Peter Green in 1970. The Gass has now been re-released on cd and remastered.  

Depression along with chronic inactivity, little social interaction, forces one day to run into the next without even the slightest notice. This then really becomes the final spiral downwards   for many an artists in my opinion. For any creative genius to become stagnant is a fate worse than death. Peter Green was in a daily personal battle between good and evil, prescribed medications and life against death!

It’s thanks to his brother in law who motivated Peter to get himself up off the sofa and return to the business of making music, and that alone just may have saved his life.  Rumours have been circulating for years that Peter refused to even pick up his guitar - his finger nails were long and he was unable to push the guitar strings down to the frets in order to play.


When discussing Peter Green today, it’s mandatory and a  prerequisite, that you check out the link provided below. In short: Peter is still here, playing guitar, harmonica, singing and touring in 2009. But which musicians are no longer with us and why, is a must read. In order to appreciate Mr. Green’s legacy.  WEBSITE for Peter Green & Friends: http://www.myspace.com/petergreenandfriends 


Going Up – Man of the World

"He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” B.B. King


Going Down - Star In The Dust:  

Peter was arrested and incarcerated in Brixton Prison in 1977. This was after threatening to shoot his manager, Clifford Davis. It was while in prison that Peter was finally diagnosed with  schizophrenia / paranoia / hallucinations and moved to a mental hospital, where he  had undergone a series of shock treatments.

Some of the jobs that Peter held during the bad phases of his life were:

         Cemetery Gardner / Grave Digger         
         Pathology Assistant / Working in a Lab
         Hospital Orderly / Attendant 

         Bartender in Cornwall

Peter married Jane Samuels who was a born again Christian, and the marriage produced one daughter for the couple, her name is Rosebud  Samuels  Greenbaum.  But Peter was convinced that Jane had made a pact with the devil and the marriage ended in divorce after only one year together.  Peter then returned to Fleetwood Mac and started doing large quantities  of cocaine. Mick Fleetwood talked to Warner Brothers Music and they in turn offered Peter a deal for four record albums,  $900.000 was the financial compensation. Peter turned it down stating that “it was the devil’s temptation”. 


Flying In and Out Of Stardom – The Return of a Living Legend


Note: Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 along with founding member Peter Green.


Some Notes in non-chronologial order:

  1. In Late 1997 the Splinter Group faced two devastating set backs. The first being that Spike Edney left the band. The second, Cozy Powell was killed in an accident, he drowned in the ocean.
  2. In 1998, Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green were inducted into the Rock N´ Roll Hall of Fame. Where Peter and Carlos Santana got to play Black Magic Woman together at the presentation.
  3. The cd Destiny Road was released June of 1999
  4. Peter Green’s playing was marked with a distinctive vibrato and economy of style. Though he played other guitars, he is best known for deriving a unique tone from his 1959 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst – a result of the magnet of his guitar’s neck pick up being accidentally reversed to produce an “out of phase” sound.
  5. Peter Green is ranked number 38 in the top 100 of all time great guitarist.
  6. How Peter spent his life after he ended his association with Fleetwood Mac in 1970, has only served to increase his popularity and reputation as being one of  “Rocks Great Enigmas”. Now that he has returned, he has the full support of all his fans.
  7. 1994 marked the beginning of his come back. Peter said that his medications left him too tired to play his guitar and the toll it took on him was incredible. In 1995 he made the very brave decision to go off his medications and started to practice guitar seriously once again. Peter formed a band with his long time friend Nigel Watson. The Splinter Group made its debut performance at the German Blues Festival and then went on to play at the Guildford Folk and Blues Festival in the summer of 1996. His return brought out his old fan base by the thousands. They played over 50 concerts that year.
  8. Drugs left a permanent mark on Peter’s psyche. Peter said, “I took one too many LSD trips, and that puts me in the Care and Attention Category”.
  9. Peter spends his days watching television, going for walks and attending a day treatment program, but hardly if ever touches the guitar.
  10. According to Peter, “I’m on some medication, I don’t know what it is, but it makes it hard to concentrate. I rarely feel like playing”.
  11. 1994 – On Peter Green, “while soft spoken, self effacing, and evidently still recovering from the traumas of his past, still proved to be articulate, humorous and very much tuned into his own legacy”.
  12. His Father is Joe Greenbaum
  13. His Mother is Ann Greenbaum
  14. Pedigree – Peter started out as an apprentice butcher.
  15. His Grandfather (on his mothers side of the family) Mark Rachman was a violinist
  16. His fathers father (great grandfather) Greenbaum was a restless travelling man, which was the perfect recipe for a Bluesman, the restless wandering musician.
  17. The first melody that Peter learned to play by ear was the theme from a television show called “Gun Law”.
  18. At age eleven  Peter was teaching himself.
  19. Peter was more interested in the bass playing of Paul Samwell Smith or Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones.
  20. Peter Green – “I didn’t consider a Telecaster guitar, and for some reason I didn’t want a Stratocaster.”
  21. Peter is the youngest of four children. He started playing guitar at age ten. His early influences were Hank B. Marvin of the Shadows / Muddy Waters / B.B. King / Freddy King.
  22. About Peter: His emerging voice aspired to say as much as possible in a well chosen notes delivered with a haunting sweet-yet-melancholy tone”.
  23. Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac first public appearance was at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival – on August 13, 1967
  24. Fleetwood Mac’s very first album was released in  February of 1968 Peter Green and his band had become “The New Crusaders of the English Blues Movement.”
  25. Peters work on “Mr. Wonderful” – “English Rose” – “Then Play On”  and “Live At The  Boston Tea Party” chronicle a guitar genius at the peak of his abilities.”
  26. While in Munich, Germany Peter disappeared for three days, he was getting spiked / dosed with LSD.
  27. As Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac became more successful Peter was making a mental and emotional decline. He began to loathe the fame and fortune he had acquired. Peter had a vision of an angel holding a starving Biafran child in her arms. “I thought I had too much money to be happy and normal. Thousand of pounds is just too much for a working person to handle all of a sudden, and I felt I didn’t deserve it”.
  28. Before Peter left Fleetwood Mac, he wrote the haunting song “Green Manalishi” that seems to document his struggle to stop his descent into madness. His very last performance with Fleetwood Mac was on May 28, 1970
  29. Peter in 1970 was “Meandering and Unfocussed”. The “End of the Game” solo release is a double reference to the extinction of wildlife and his own withdrawal from life”.
  30. The dismal story of how the psychiatrist tore apart Peter Green’s nervous system with shock treatments, was the end of a great music composer.
  31. Peter Green has the sweetest tone I have ever heard, he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.  Said Mr. B.B. King   
  32. Peter Green earned the nick name “The Green God”. Just as Eric Clapton was deemed “Clapton Is God” in London Graffiti.
  33. In 2000 Peter is quoted as saying of Eric Clapton: “I followed him to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. I loved his playing. At the time he did everything on a Telecaster, it sounded absolutely fabulous.
  34. The British number one hit “Albatross”
  35. Peter remains ambivalent about his song writing success, “Oh I was never really a songwriter, I was very lucky to get those hits. I shouldn’t have been distracted from my fascination with the blues….I have been known to come up with the odd bit, but I’m not that wild about the big composer credit.”
  36. Peter began wearing a red robe, grew a beard, and wore a crucifix on his chest. He announced, “I went on a trip, and never came back.”
  37. After Fleetwood Mac in 1970, Peter then faded into obscurity. He sold his trademark 1959 Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard to Irish guitarist Gary Moore and then recorded with Bobby Tench’s Band called “GASS” on their eponymous album.

  38. The remainder of the 1970’s was spent in various states of “mental disintegration” and “menial labour” for Peter.
  39. He then accepted an offer to replace the guitarist in “Stone The Crows”, but pulled out two days before the band was going to announce their new guitarist.
  40. Peter then spent time living in a Kibbutz in Tel Aviv Israel. Upon his return to England, he worked as a “Grave Digger” – “A Pathology Lab Assistant” – “A Hospital Orderly” and “A Bartender In Cornwall”.
  41. At this point in time Peter began to experience hallucinations that prompted doctors to prescribe Electro – Convulsive – Therapy Treatments – (Shock Treatments)
  42. Peter Green 1977 “I wanted some money from Clifford Davis” because I was living in peoples houses, sleeping on the floor, or in hotels and things. Look, I’ll shoot you, I recently bought a gun in Canada.” Peter was arrested and sent to prison. After an examination he was transferred to a mental hospital, where he was then diagnosed as Schizophrenic / Manic Depressive / Paranoid / Bi Polar…….
  43. These days his performances are intermittent, which all depends on his ability to play at any given moment, and subject to change. He also depends on a second guitarist for support, back up and handling most of the lead guitar work.
  44. The Splinter Group – formed in the 1990’s The Acoustic Robert Johnson Songbook 1998
  45. Peter Green – “I was dreaming I was dead and I couldn’t move, so I fought my way back into my body, I woke up and looked around, it was very dark and I found myself writing a song. It was about money”. “The Green Manalishi is money. The reason this happened was this fear I got that I earned too much money, and I was separate from all people”.
  46. During his last television appearance his descent became visable for all to see. Peter appeared in a monk’s robe, supporting a large crucifix around his neck. The song “Green Manalishi” captured his feelings about the evils of money, which featured the tortured screams and voices of a man who had succumbed to his internal demons, multiple personality disorder and substance abuse – a deadly combination. Peter left Fleetwood Mac after failing to convince his band mates to donate all their earnings to charities. Peter rejoined the band but he refused to sing this was in 1971 and he was fired “services no longer required”  - “Services Withdrawn”.
  47. The very last song that Peter wrote for the group was called “Green Manalishi with the Two Prong Crown”. It was then that Peter’s mental illness, brought on by the overindulgence of psychotropic drugs continued his quickening decent into the abyss.
  48. Peter Green was the founding member and leader of Fleetwood Mac. He was also the guiding force and driving spirit of the original band. He wrote and performed an amazing string of hits that by 1969 had out sold singles by both the Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.
  49. Peter’s mental problems started when he unknowingly consumed a drink spiked with LSD and his never ending psychological problems and condition festered from that moment on. This eventually and tragically rendered the super star guitarist as one of rock n´ rolls saddest and tragic creative casualties of all. Right along side that of Syd Barrett the leader and founding member of Pink Floyd – another well documented LSD casualty of the late 1960’s early 1970’s.
  50. Peter’s continued experiment with LSD and Mescaline just exacerbated his already deteriorating mental condition and which finally led to his departure from Fleetwood Mac in order to establish himself as a primer solo artist. In truth, his solo career proved to be inconsistent and inferior to his previous work with Fleetwood Mac. That being said, there are brief moments of his previous creative genius with fleeting glimpses of dazzling guitar work on a few of his solo efforts, from the late 1970’s to the 1990’s.
  51. Right from the beginning Peter had one major problem going against him, he was Jewish. This led to physical abuse that he had to endure as a child living in the working class area of London’s East End neighbourhood of Bethnal Green. The second also involved being Jewish, as he was constantly subjected to Anti-Jewish remarks and taunts, which eventually forced him to change his last name from Greenbaum to simply Green.
  52. Peter Green States: “Hank B. Marvin (of the Shadows) was my first guitar hero, I listened to his playing because it was very lyrical, his phrasings were melodic and I’ve always liked a nice melody. Hank made the guitar into an instrument that talked colours”.  
  53. Peter also had respect and admiration for Gallup, who was the guitarist for Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps, who was himself influenced by a very young Jeff Beck. “Good solid but very simple player, I don’t like too much complication, to me it’s like unnecessary words. I don’t use the word “Lick” I hate the word actually, because I don’t play licks, I play phrases or riffs. A riff is a short thing that you repeat and a phrase is a group of notes for your melody. I’m big on melody, I am.
  54. Peter was fascinated with the American Blues Music. Groups like Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, The Rolling Stones, The Spencer Davis Group, The Graham Bond Organization, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds and The Pretty Things were all popularizing and reinventing that original music form for young white audiences on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. (It came to be called Blue Eyed Soul or White Boy Blues).
  55. As a birthday present John Mayall bought Peter recording studio time to do with as he pleased. Peter took that golden opportunity to record with John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. They then added Jeremy Spencer on slide guitar and with that Fleetwood Mac was born. The name came from an instrumental from that birthday studio jam between Fleetwood, McVie and Green, titled “Fleetwood Mac”. It was aptly named after the powerful rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. Peter insisted on that name for the new band, because Peter was very much against that “Eric Clapton is God” guitar hero worship thing during that time. “The fact that the very first record was credited to Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac went against his wishes, but the record company insisted on it”. Peter just wanted to be part of a band. Such compositions such as “Black Magic Woman” – “Oh Well” – “Man of the World” – “Rattlesnake Shake” and the instrumental sensation and number one in England “Albatross” really caught Peter at the height of his compositional best.

         Please check this website for Peter Green Biography: