Fleetwood Mac Co-Founder Peter Green Dies At 73

by Kristine Cannon
Peter Green Fleetwood Mac
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A law firm representing Green’s family said he died ‘peacefully in his sleep’

Fleetwood Mac co-founder and blues guitarist Peter Green has died. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer was 73.

According to Swan Turton, a law firm representing Green’s family Green died “peacefully in his sleep” this weekend. The Associated Press reports that a further statement will be issued in the coming days. “It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Green announce his death this weekend, peacefully in his sleep,” the statement reads, per BBC News.

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Considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Green founded Fleetwood Mac alongside Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Jeremy Spencer in 1967. He was responsible for many of the band’s early hits, including “Black Magic Woman,” “Oh Well,” and “Albatross.” The late B.B. King even described Green as “the only white guitarist who sent shivers up” his spine. Prior to forming Fleetwood Mac, Green replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s band, the Bluesbreakers. At the time, Mayall said of Green: “He might not be better [than Clapton] now. But you wait… he’s going to be the best.”

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Mayall would later say in the 2009 BBC documentary about Green, Man of the World, that “Peter, in his prime in the ’60s, was without equal. He was a force to be reckoned with.”

Green was one of eight Fleetwood Mac members, including Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Danny Kirwan, and Jeremy Spencer. They were all inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Green, who struggled with his mental health, left the band in 1970. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in the hospital undergoing electro-convulsive therapy in the mid-70s. But Green would later return to the stage: In 1996, he formed the Peter Green Splinter Group and performed mostly classic blues.

Fellow musicians took to Twitter to pay tribute to the late guitarist. “He was a breathtaking singer, guitarist and composer. I know who I will be listening to today. RIP,” wrote Whitesnake’s David Coverdale.

News of Green’s passing follows Fleetwood Mac’s announcement of releasing a retrospective boxset documenting the band’s early years, between 1969 and 1974. In February, the band hosted a tribute concert in London honoring Green and his musical legacy. Special guests included David Gilmour, Christine McVie, Pete Townshend, Bill Wyman, and Steven Tyler.

“I wanted people to know that I did not form this band — Peter Green did,” Fleetwood told Rolling Stone in January, ahead of the event. “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.”