The tone of a guitarist, like that of a vocalist, is their identity mark; it is the DNA of the instrumentalist and makes the same note played (or sung) by two different guitarists sound different. Well, Peter Green had the most beautiful tone ever heard; there have been more explosive, faster, more influential and innovative guitarists, but no one (perhaps excepting his teacher B.B. King) has had a tone as sweet and beautiful as that of Peter Green. But many times his incredible beauty when playing the guitar has overshadowed two other very important things: Green was also a great singer and a remarkable composer. Let these 10 wonderful songs (nine originals and one cover version) prove it:
Peter Green celebrated the entry of young Danny Kirwan into Fleetwood Mac by composing one of the most beautiful instrumentals in the history of rock. Taking Santo & Johnny's famous Sleep Walk as a model, Green demonstrates that his tone is one of the most special in the world, although on this occasion it is by playing his Fender Stratocaster connected to an Orange Matamp OR100 amplifier, instead of his beloved 'Greeny'. Released on November 22, 1968, this song became the first number one of the band in the UK, becoming a reference for many of the local groups, including the most famous band on the planet, the Beatles, who took this composition as a model for their Sun King. John Lennon held Green’s band in such esteem that when in December 1968 he appeared in the Rolling Stones’ Rock & Roll Circus he named his supergroup (with Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell) The Dirty Mac.
Man Of The World
Peter Green had always been against stardom and superficial fame; if his band was called Fleetwood Mac it was because he was fed up with all the attention being paid to guitarists, so instead he used the surnames of his rhythm section (Mick Fleetwood and John McVie). Therefore it is understandable that after the huge success of Albatross, his follow up was this Man Of The World, in which Green made it clear how little happiness success brought him, which could be seen as a clear warning that something was not right: "I guess I've got everything I need, I wouldn't ask for more, And there's no one I'd rather be, But I just wish that I'd never been born". Here, Green's unmistakable TONE appears again, this time with his beloved 'Greeny', his Les Paul of 59, in a brief but unbeatable solo; but the song is perfect in all its parts, managing to sublimate the message of melancholy in its melody and interpretation. As could not be otherwise, the song was another big hit in his country, where it climbed to number 2 in the charts.
Oh Well Part 1 & 2
This song, one of Mick Fleetwood's favorites in history, was another composition by Green that was divided in two parts: the first built on a powerful riff, close to 'hard rock', and the second, instrumental, in which Green plays a Spanish Ramirez guitar with classical influences. The second part was Green's own favorite, but it was the first, with its powerful instrumental riff and vocal stops, that would inspire one of Green's biggest fans to create one of the most famous songs in history: Jimmy Page’s Black Dog. Peter Green had such an important band in the late 60's that they were one of the few contemporary bands that can boast of having inspired songs by the Beatles and Led Zeppelin.
Need Your Love So Bad
A Little Willie John cover on which Peter Green demonstrates that he is much more than a prodigious guitarist: listen to his voice, his feeling, and discover one of the most expressive singers of his generation. But, of course, then he takes 'Greeny' (despite the fact that in a promotional video he appears playing a Stratocaster by Jeremy Spencer) and begins to play, clearly with that mid-out-of-phase pickup, with that special tone that makes one think that this is the song that B.B. King must have been thinking about when he said that "he had the sweetest tone I've ever heard, he was the only one capable of giving me the cold sweats".
Black Magic Woman
Released on March 28, 1968, Black Magic Woman was the band's third single and the first written by Peter Green, with the first two being covers. This is one of their most famous songs thanks to the successful Santana cover that would appear in their 1970 Abraxas. It is a great cover, no doubt, but the original has even more magic, although it is much more anchored in the blues.
John Mayall knows a thing or two when it comes to choosing guitarists, so it's no surprise that when Eric Clapton left to form Cream that Mayall quickly found a talent like Peter Green. They say that when they entered to record A Hard Road a producer asked Mayall about Clapton and he answered: "He is not with us, he left us a few weeks ago. But don't worry, we have someone better". That surely sounded like bravado but I suppose that at the moment when Green connected and began to play The Supernatural, Albatross' clearest precedent, nobody found it so exaggerated. This is the song that Fleetwood Mac was built on, with Green supported by John McVie on bass and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. Here his tone is already present, one influenced by B.B. King but, at the same time, totally identifiable and personal. The mark this song had on Carlos Santana is evident.
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)
One of the heaviest and most rocking songs in Peter Green’s history, with a powerful riff and an excellent rhythm section; it is understandable that it was reworked years later by Judas Priest. It is also one of the songs that best show that Green was at the end of his time in the band, stuck in a whirl of bad acid trips, comparing money to the devil and documenting his struggle to try to prevent a descent into madness. A chilling song that was the last thing he did with Fleetwood Mac, on May 20, 1970; five days after it appeared as a single, he gave his last concert with the band and left forever.
Another song composed by Green and recorded in 1970, it remained unreleased until the appearance in 1995 of the remarkable Live At The BBC. Sandy Mary contains one of the band's best riffs, another in which one can see their more rock side, although both the melody and the riff seem to be taken from Larry Williams' Bonny Moronie. One cannot help but think that this song served as inspiration for Marc Bolan and his electric conversion, as well as allowing us to listen to Green using a wah pedal.
I Loved Another Woman
I Loved Another Woman is a great hidden treasure from the band's first album, Fleetwood Mac (although it is known as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac - not to be confused with the first album of the later formation led by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in 1975). It is a gem that opens with an introduction to the guitar that gives you chills, one of those wonders for which to worship this man and be able to hear the perfect tone that he manages to get from the Holy Grail of guitars, his Les Paul Standard of 59.
The best song from the original version of Then Play On and another of the favorites of the drummer Mick Fleetwood who considered their second part the way his band makes a 'jam' like the Grateful Dead. Before Green demonstrated his qualities as a great bluesman, approaching hard rock territories with another good riff and another great vocal interpretation.