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Mick Fleetwood on the first mistake he made with Peter Green

The Tudors, Medici’s and Habsburg’s all have the same thing in common. A dynastic history that involves many characters, a perpetually revolving door of comings and goings, and an ample amount of drama. Whilst there is no sign of beheadings, murderous plots or deformities (that we know of), Fleetwood Mac has come to embody somewhat of the same, just within the realms of music and all the excess it entails.

A prolific rock band formed in London in 1967, Fleetwood Mac was founded by guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Jeremy Spencer. They have had numerous members and released seventeen studio albums to date. The last man standing out of the founding members is Fleetwood, which is a good thing when you consider his name is in the band’s title.

The band’s history is akin to an epic. Internal romance, divorce, drug abuse, band members leaving to join religious cult’s; many bizarre happenings have occurred to Fleetwood Mac over its numerous iterations. It is miraculous that no one has thought to make a fictionalised film about their career. 

In the early days, a lot of the madness came from frontman and guitar hero Peter Green, who was an adherent of LSD, the drug which is said to have changed his personality markedly by the other Mac members who witnessed it. Green would spend only three years in the band and would depart in 1970. However, there exist numerous stories about him off-stage, and in addition to the iconic musical work he did, including the unmistakable ‘Albatross’ and ‘Black Magic Woman’, this has culminated in his almost mythical legacy.

In March 2021, Fleetwood revealed a previously unknown story about Green, the “first mistake” he made in relation to the guitarist. Fleetwood told Classic Rock: “This is where I have my instant confession”. Given that a lot of the discourse surrounding Fleetwood Mac involves band members looking back with regret at how they could have acted differently towards one another, this revelation could have taken on a much more sentimental or even darker tone.

However, Fleetwood cast his mind back to the first time he met Peter Green, prior to Fleetwood Mac’s existence when he was playing in his first band; the now-legendary outfit called Peter B’s Looners. At the present juncture, the band found themselves in a guitar-playing quandary: “We’d already tried a couple of guitar players. But we’d heard about Greeny. He walked in with his Les Paul in a little brown case, almost like a cello case. He plugged in, and I remember saying to Peter Bardens: ‘I don’t think he’s good enough.’ I said: ‘He keeps playing the same thing.’ And of course, what I was hearing was the simplicity of Peter’s playing. But I got flustered, thinking: ‘Is he going to be able to learn all these songs in three days?'”.

Fleetwood continued, “Right there and then, much to Peter Bardens’ credit, he said, ‘Mick, you’re wrong. This guy has style and tone, and he’s funky as hell.’ Of course, Greeny got the gig. And I’ve never scrambled so fast in my life to keep up over the next couple of weeks. I ended up with my mouth hanging open, going, ‘Oh, shit!’ Of course, the irony of the story is that I’m the hugest advocate of Peter Green. So thank God I got side-whacked and told to shut up.”

Ironically, Peter Green joined the band, and it would set off a chain of events that would lead to the establishment of Fleetwood Mac, who would become one of the world’s most revered rock bands of all time. In a way, then, we can thank Peter Bardens for the establishment of Fleetwood Mac, as without his input, it is likely that Fleetwood would have got his way, and they’d have auditioned another guitarist.

His understanding of Peter Green’s raw talent would be life-changing for Green and Fleetwood, kicking off rock’s most troubled musical dynasty, resulting in the vastly divergent lifestyles between Green and Fleetwood. Without this crucial moment, there would be no Buckingham, Nicks or Rumours. Furthermore, without Green’s emotional, feeling driven style, future icons like Noel Gallagher and Radiohead would not exist. Let that sink in.

Listen to Mick Fleetwood talking about Peter Green, below.

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