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MOJO, Issue 6 The Supernatural

MOJO, Issue 6, May 1994

The Supernatural

How did Peter Green's extraordinary talent evolve? Harry Shapiro talks to musicians who worked with him before and after Fleetwood Mac.

Pete Moody Former bass player with The Grebbels "We were support band to The Yardbirds at the Crawdaddy and Peter used to come along and watch Eric [Clapton], and also our guitarist Roger Pearce who was quite well thought of at the time. When The Grebbels broke up early in 1965, Peter came round to Roger's house and asked him whether he wanted to form a band. That band was The Muskrats which had Dave Bidwell on drums [later of Chicken Shack] and which eventually become the first incarnation of the John Dummer Blues Band. I first saw Peter play guitar when he was rehearsing with The Muskrats in Sheen. It was a very, very explosive style, the way he was heard with John Mayall and Peter Bardens ... magic."

Snowy White Guitarist New album Highway to the Sun out soon in the US and Japan, featuring Chis Rea and Dave Gilmour "I first met Pete in 1970. I phoned him up and said, like, You're my favourite guitar player, can we have a jam together? I thought he'd just say Piss off, but he said, Right, come down tomorrow. He was still living with his mum and dad and the parrot. We both had Les Pauls and played all afternoon without even plugging them in. He wasn't really doing anything at that time - he'd just left Fleetwood Mac, although he went back for a while after Jeremy Spencer disappeared. After that we knocked around together; he'd come and borrow my car or sleep on the settee as he gradually became more reclusive.

"At one point he gave me his guitar to keep and then he wanted to sell it to me for what he'd paid for it. I was flat broke at the time and it would have meant me selling my Les Paul to afford it. I thought about it for ages, but in the end I told Pete, Look, don't sell it. If you don't feel like playing it, just keep it in the attic. But he took the guitar back and the next thing I heard, he'd sold it to Gary Moore.

"That special Peter Green sound came about partly by accident, when the pick-ups were changed and put back out of phase. When that happens you lose certain frequencies and you get this middling flutsy sound that Peter made his own. With Peter's guitar, the pick-ups were switched out of phase, so you couldn't go back to normal sound, which was why I didn't want it.

"His magic lies in the strength of his confidence in what he's doing plus a lack of confidence that makes you more sensitive, plus he left all these spaces in the music, didn't have to prove how fast he was."

Roger Pearce Former guitarist with The Muskrats "Even though Peter was playing bass at the time, he could already play Eric's lead break from The Yardbirds' I Ain't Got You. Nobody except Peter had worked out what Eric was doing. When The Muskrats did the song live, we did the solo twice, I'd take the first one and cock it up and then Peter would do it faultlessly on bass. He was a very, very good bass player; but he obviously came to the realisation that he could play guitar just as well as anybody else.

"We did this one gig at a posh rowing club near Staines and we had to play outside doing R&B standards with all these people walking around in blazers and boaters. We were playing near the water at full volume and of course, sound travels across water like anything. We were well into the first set when this guy in a blazer comes up red in the face, looking like Captain Mainwaring from Dad's Army, and demanded that we stop playing. We carried on and Peter was just doubled up pissing himself laughing. Eventually we stopped and they threw us out.

"Even after he started with Peter Bardens, he'd still come around, tell me what he was up to and he'd want to know what I thought of his playing and he'd show me things on guitar and ask me what I thought. Well, what can you say when somebody is standing in front of you being so flash without meaning to be and so obviously in control of what he was doing? He once said to me that he wanted to express as much as he could using as few notes at possible, and I think he succeeded in that. Need Your Love So Bad says it all."

Jeff Whittacker Leader of Peter's last band, Kolors Currently planning to open the Flowerpot Club in Stamford Hall as a rock venue "Peter and I had a mutual friend in Godfrey McLean who was the drummer on The End Of The Game and it was really because of Godfrey that Peter and I came together. I was asked to fix [get the musicians together] for In The Skies and What'cha Gonna Do? which were the two albums for PVK after Little Dreamer. But I was also working in Germany, and when I came back Peter didn't seem too happy and said he wanted me to be more involved in the next album, which was White Sky (1982). It was really then we realised that we worked very well together.

"Eventually we got a band together that was a good cover for Peter because he was not well by this time. But we got gigs all over Europe; we were on tour for over three years at six weeks at a time. Eventually it was what was happening on the business side that broke the band up. We had dates in various countries; Peter wasn't allowed to go and was freaking out about money because of all the problems he had in Fleetwood Mac. He was sitting in his house refusing to move and that was that.

"There are too many people, fans, who seem to look to Peter for answers and if you are like that with Peter, you scare the hell out of him because he knows he ain't got no answers. Once we had a gig in Finland and we were just coming back to do the gig after the sound check and there's a queue and a couple of fans recognised him. Oh, Peter Green, you're my hero, you're my hero. And Peter turned round and said, Yes and you're my hero too. And the guy got really upset and was shouting. Peter turned to me and was laughing and said, See, see what I have to deal with.

"I still believe that Peter is the best feel guitarist in Europe even today. He can still do it because he is a strong man and he loves music, and when he's in the right frame of mind and not scared by any elements, and not hearing all the voices in his head, he can play. I've been with him in his front room only 18 months ago, he played the hell out of that guitar."

Maggie Bell "I met Peter Green in 1972 through Steve Thompson who'd been with John Mayall and who played bass in my band, Stone The Crows. Steve said that Peter had been out of the limelight for somewhile and would be good to get as a replacement for Les Harvey [who died on stage in May 1971]. We picked him up at the station and he had this rucksack and his hair cut really short and looking very healthy. We were supposed to do this festival and we spent six weeks rehearsing at Ronnie Leahy's house. He was playing so well right through rehearsals, and then two days before the festival we got a phone call to say that he couldn't make it. It just wasn't to be.

"Peter was a very quiet and shy person; he seemed to think that people were looking at him or taking the piss. Fame can be a terrible thing ... Peter wasn't into all that; he'd just as easily sleep on your sofa, he despised money. As long as he had enough to get along, enough for a packet of cigarettes and a couple of beers, he was quite happy."

Ed Spevock Drummer Formerly with Babe Ruth and Chicken Shack "I first got to know Peter at school when I was about 14; we were in the same year at the Elliot Comprehensive School. I'd got interested in drums and Pete said he played bass. I met up with him about three or four months after we'd left school and he said he'd joined a pro band called Errol Dixon & The Honeydrippers. When Peter was in Peter Barden's band and then John Mayall's we used to keep meeting on the train going into town, when I was still working during the day, and by then he had changed a bit. He used to be a very quiet fellow, but now he came across as a much stronger personality and it made me think; I really want to be a pro musician, that's what it does to you. Peter knew what he liked and didn't like and was authoritative when it came to music.

"Once Fleetwood Mac got big, we sort of lost contact, but around 1976 just as Babe Ruth was coming to the end, he phoned up one day and we saw each other quite regularly after that. He seemed very tired at that point, as if the spark had gone out of him. He told me that when Fleetwood Mac went to America, it all got too much for him because everybody was looking to him for guidance and leadership. I think most of the fun in a band is looking forward to something you haven't got - once you've got it, maybe you realise that the best part was wishing for it."

"The sessions were interesting and a lot of fun. Peter arrived at the studio for the early sessions with these incredibly long nails and the producer was frantically trying to cut them so Peter could play. Another time, we were really going well and suddenly Peter stops and looks across at John and says, No, no, no, you're taking me to Brighton and I want to go to Shepherd's Bush. We just all collapsed laughing. That might sound a bit bizarre, but in terms of the music, there was an element of truth in what he said.

"Peter grew in confidence as time went on. The last sessions I did with him were for an album called White Sky (1982). He bought himself a Marshall amp with a Leslie hooked up to it and was trying out different sounds. On the days when he was alright, he was very together and playing extremely well."

Zoot Money "I knew Peter back in the Flamingo Club days with John Mayall, but we didn't get to play together until he phoned me about his solo album, The End Of The Game, which he owed Warners. He said he hadn't prepared anything, but would I like to come and play? Which is exactly what we did; we just played away and took the tapes and put it all in some sort of order. It started around 10 in the evening and it was heads down until around four then it was like, Right, ta-ta, hope that was enough.

"He stayed with me for a brief spell, one of his 'spare' periods about 1975-1976 when he wasn't playing at all. I brought a guitar down and left it around and found him playing it one day and next thing I knew he was in the studio recording. At the time, I didn't ask for anything because I just wanted to play. But when Peter was staying with me, he was going through some kind of redemption, restitution phase, you know, What can I do with my life? And I said jokingly, Well yer bugger, you can start by paying me that session money. And about two weeks later after he'd gone, I got a cheque in the post!"

Mike Vernon Producer of John Mayall and Fleetwood Mac "The first thing I ever knew about Peter Green was when he turned up at Decca in West Hampstead. Me and Gus Dudgeon were looking across at him and thinking, Who the hell is this? Where's Eric? John Mayall just said, Oh, he's Eric's replacement. I hadn't even heard that Eric had left the Bluesbreakers. John said Peter was as good as Eric, which was a bit hard to believe at first until he actually plugged in and then we thought, Ummm, he can play a bit!

"To start with, everyone was making comparisons with Eric, but once we got into recording Hard Road, Peter was obviously trying to carve out something that was his own. The Supernatural was a major departure in sound and feel from anything we'd done with Eric.

"Peter was able to really put good melodies together within his playing, probably more so than Clapton who had a much more rhythmical approach, he never got out of the groove. Whereas Eric had energy in his playing, Peter had a deftness, a touch and a more melodic style, and actually at that time he probably had a deeper blues than Eric.

"In my own personal estimation, Peter Green was just the very best blues guitarist this country has ever produced, and if anybody wants any proof of that all they have to do is listen to the Otis Spann album I did with Fleetwood Mac, The Biggest Thing Since Colossus [shortly to be re-released on CD]. Some of the guitar playing on that is absolutely stunning and it's all from the heart. B.B. King has said about Peter that here was a real bluesman and it was a privilege to work with him."

Dave Ambrose Former bass player with Peter Bardens "Peter and I were in all Peter Bardens bands at that time and Shotgun Express with Mick Fleetwood. We came across Peter Green who was actually a bass player then, but he wanted to play blues guitar. So he joined and we played an awful lot on the Ricky Tick club circuit with John Mayall, The Who and so on. We were doing afternoon sessions, all-nighters - we were working very hard and it just taught us how to play.

"We were doing instrumentals, Booker T, Mose Allison stuff. It took us a while to realise just how good Peter was. Rod Stewart and Beryl Marsden came in as singers and the band changed to Shotgun Express, doing mainly soul and Tamla Motown songs. We did a single which was a minor hit, but shortly after a lot of soul searching on his part, he left the band.

"He was a straightforward person, no nonsense, never said much - me and Mick and Peter Bardens were much more kind of wild and debonair. It was a good mix. In those days everything was just healthy, naive, good fun, like hiding from each other in cupboards. Peter would always turn up wearing these baggy dungarees which I think was all part of trying to be a blues man."

For information about Jet Martin's authorised biography of Peter Green, Oh Well (out this autumn), write to Rattlesnake Publishing, PO Box 39, Bradford, West Yorks BD2 3UX, England

Mick Fleetwood

Can you remember meeting Peter Green?

He came to audition for a band called The Peter B's - Dave Ambrose on bass, Peter Bardens and myself. He fitted with us. We were a very simple instrumental band, a lot of Booker T, Mose Allison. He had a great 'sound' as they say, but me and Dave didn't think he knew enough about the guitar. He only played a couple of licks, variations on a theme, Freddie King. And to Peter Bardens' credit, he pulled me aside and said, You're wrong, this guy's special.

Your backgrounds were very different.

Oh, we used to joke about it. He was the Jewish kid who was beaten up in the East End of London a lot of the time and he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, which I used to give him a hard time about. It's time to move on, Peter! But as young men we had an incredible friendship. I was basically ... in love with him. We roomed together. When it was cold we slept together. I knew this man. It's the most terrible loss.

I mean I still listen to him all the time. I never go on the road without taking his music with me. When I still drank - I haven't for two years - and we were on the road, I used to feel I had this mission, this quest, to get people to realise how great he was. I would get drunk and I'd have my cassettes and CDs laid out and, come that magic moment when I felt everyone was primed sufficiently, I'd say, Now listen to this! And, invariably, I would end up in tears. Every time. Man Of The World destroys me. It's just so sad. "And how I wished I was in love." Everyone thinks I'm the cat's whiskers and I'm just a normal guy. He was crying out back then, which basically led to part of his illness.

Did you see that coming?

No, I didn't. We were all too young.

The Green Manalishi? You must have had some idea something catastrophic was going on?

Not really, no. We were just playing music. Now I do! My God, yes. And it makes me shiver.

So when he went off the rails, you felt you could have helped him if you'd seen it coming?

Peter going off the rails was not an immediate thing. It was relatively subtle. In those days people did things like he did. People did see God and drift off and go to the mountain tops and wear striped T-shirts. I'm not making light of it but there was a lot of that shit going on. He left Fleetwood Mac under the most controlled circumstances. We talked about it. He knew it was coming for the better part of a year. He didn't leave us in the shit, he was completely and utterly responsible. But behind all that was this seething emotional disturbance that he was about to go into, and was already going into. He seemingly knew what he was doing which is why it was so frustrating, when we would talk, and me and John would say, We don't want to give all that money away. Let's just give some of it away!

But when he left ...

We were in shock. We were lost babes in the wood. We'd lost our mentor. He was The Great White Hope. He was our leader.

When did you last talk to him?

A couple of Christmasses ago we had a long talk on the phone. He was great. We talked about what he was doing and what the music scene was like. I said, Do you ever pick up the guitar? He said, Yeah, sometimes, but I just like to go for my walks. He lives with his mother now. You take pot luck when you ring him up: you can be saddened or you can be quietly amazed. He has this dreaminess, you think he's not really interested in talking to you, and sometimes he does phase people out. But there was this glimmer ...

Is he regretful about what happened?

No. I think he's totally philosophical about it. He's very proud of Fleetwood Mac. But he laughs at himself. Oh Mick, I sort of overdid it, you know!

Is there someone taking care of his royalties?

Oh yeah. That's how he can live comfortably. Oh Well, Black Magic Woman, they were mega-hits. Rattlesnake Shake was done by Aerosmith on their last album. The guy's still making money.

Does he ever listen to his own music?

I would say not. You should ask him. But he listens to the radio. He'll suddenly quietly amaze you. I know that band, they're pretty good. He's still got ears like a hawk, one thousand per cent.

How did he write his songs?

He kept stuff, like Brian Wilson, in his head. He already had the big picture. He was like the simple blues maestro turned Brian Wilson, using the format but thinking in very deep musical terms. He thought classically. In terms of overtures and shit.

How did he get you to play them as he heard them?

Oh, he'd come over and whip me! It ain't fuckin' swingin'! You ain't puttin' it where it should be! He would treat me like a dog, but that's all it took. I know you can do it, just do it. Just feel it, buddy! Everything I am musically I owe to Peter. I am more capable technically than I appear, but that's a lesson well learnt from this man: less is more, more is less. He played only what he needed to play. You don't have to be clever to communicate.

What would have happened to the group if he'd stayed?

I believe we'd have had the same status as Led Zeppelin in America. Led Zeppelin had a schtick, they had a lead singer with an image. I think Fleetwood Mac had a great image, a fun-loving bunch of lads. Peter Green was every bit as much of a talent as Jimmy Page. We would have had our moment in the sun together, the two of us. We would have been a less showbizzy version of what they represented - rightly or wrongly, I think some of their earlier music got overshadowed by the bulge in the pants! I think we would have had a modicum of that but, you know, prevailed a little more credibly musically.

I don't want to use the word 'genius', but I was reading this Playboy interview with John Lennon and Yoko just last night and John was talking about the creative process. Lennon knew the power that he had, Peter knew the power he had but unfortunately Peter let the power feast on him. He didn't completely lose the battle but he lost a lot of ground. Lennon acknowledged there was a feast going on: Am I a genius? he was saying in this interview. Well, part of me thinks I am and the other part thinks I'm a fucking lunatic! Therein lies the puzzle Peter ended up facing.

If he rang you tomorrow and said, I want to play again, come over ...

... I'd be on that plane like a dose of salts. Are you kidding me? If I thought it was something that he wanted to do. I can't do that, you see. I can't ask him 'cos I could instantly become a threat. I went through all that years and years ago when I lived in hope, when I used to visit Peter when he was going through some of his major crisis periods, which he probably doesn't remember. I was becoming the bad guy in his world, and I couldn't let that happen to myself.

Were you trying to get him to make music again?

I was just trying to be there as a friend. His parents loved me coming round and I would spend time with him. We would just sit in the garden, cups of tea. I wouldn't need to talk to him. But towards the end it was starting to destroy me. I was so just so sad. I was just so sad that I couldn't wave a magic wand and have him be the person I wanted him to be. I stopped going and we as people drifted apart. He was in such paranoia. Everyone was trying to do everything to him. He was very sick.

But what a gift, what a fucking gift, that's what made me angry when he gave it up. It's a great loss. But now I think, Maybe it's not that bad, Mick. Peter's still alive, you know. He's still cognisant of doing. He's not a zombie sitting there, he's a man who came out the other end with some damage but with some dignity too.

John McVie

What was he like to work with?

For my part, we were pretty much left to our own devices in the studio, except for songs which were 'composed' like Manalishi, which was very much Peter sitting at home with his Revox and doing the parts.

A little different from John Mayall.

Oh yeah, I wasn't used to it. At the time that put my nose out of joint. Mayall - and the first half of Fleetwood Mac - was playing what you felt like playing. With Mayall it was: this is a 12-bar in C, play! Later Fleetwood Mac was more structured. With Manalishi, he came in with a demo and said here's the parts. A new experience!

Any specific moments?

Oooh ... It's quite a while ago, and a lot of stuff has gone under the bridge. Not necessarily water.

When did you last see him?

I saw him just once after he left and I couldn't handle it, that's when he was doing his gravedigging bit. Just after his assault on his lawyer with the air gun, I don't want the money! It was, Woooah! John, leave it, you know? I prefer to remember him before he left. It upset me too much. It might sound cowardly but I thought it was so sad and such a bloody waste. But someone told me the other day he's doing an album. That would be bloody marvellous. I'd give anything for a millionth of his talent.

Did you realise he was falling apart?

It happened slowly. I never noticed him fingering his beads or facing East or anything. I mean, a lot of people did exactly the same thing and came out of it OK. But then there was the Munich Incident. We were doing a European tour and he got invited - or seduced - into being taken out by the Munich jet set, a bunch of young rich German hippies that had a schloss with a studio in the basement. The lady who did the Pied Piper bit was a very beautiful German model. He disappeared for three days. He was getting spiked or dosed with acid. And when he came back that was it: everything went from there.

Money is evil ...

... money is evil, success is wrong, we're going to give everything away, join me. Mick immediately said, You gotta be joking. I thought about it a bit and said, yeah, all right, and Mick said, Are you serious? Think about it! So Peter played out his tenure and went his way. God, it was strange. I don't want to go through that again. Ever. But I still have flashes of him. Him laughing. 'Cos before Manalishi, it was a bunch of lads having a great time playing music they loved.

Here's another little flashback: driving up to The Belfry, listening to the radio in the band car, grey Wolsey, got to the gig early, about three in the afternoon, and John Lennon is doing a run-down on the latest Beatles album, whatever that track is that sounded like Albatross [Sun King], and he says, This is us doing our Fleetwood Mac bit. We nearly fell apart. It was wonderful. Peter was going, Yeah! Yeah! He was slightly impressed with that!

Shall I tell you about my life?

A rare encounter with Peter Green. Interview by Mark Ellen

Is this MOJO magazine?

It is. Thanks for ringing, Peter. I talked to Mick Fleetwood last night who said he listens to your old records all the time. I said, Does Peter? And he said, You ought to ask him.

No, I don't. I'm going through a stage where I don't. I haven't got a record player set up, for the first thing. But it took me so long to record those things that I really know them quite well, you know. But I do like listening when other people are listening. If I go somewhere and there's a jukebox on and it has one of my records on, I enjoy listening when other people are listening, seeing what they think of it.

Which records do you like hearing the most?

Um. Green Manalishi. Need Your Love So Bad. Albatross. Albatross I like. The mixing. I did most of it. Took over. I shouldn't have done that. I'm not happy with that. We should have had a separate producer instead of the group producing the records. It gets to be a bit too much for them. If I ever do music again I'll have a separate producer. Sometimes we had Mike Vernon, Blue Horizon Records, which was quite good. Not taxing the musicians too much.

Do you listen to any music?

We've got a record player. It's my brother's. But we don't often use it. It's got lots of books piled on top of it and things. I watch the MTV a lot, on Sky Television. I like Björk, is that her name? I'm a fan of hers. I enjoy watching her ever so much. She really brings me alive. I tried to buy her video, Human Behaviour, but it wasn't the same one as on television. It was a horrible one. Big noisy thing, it was. Like a disco thing. The kind of music that would ruin a disco! Pounding away. She's singing the same words but there's this boom-boom-boom drowning her singing.

What do you like about her?

I don't know how to answer that question, actually. I don't know how to answer it.

What else do you like on MTV?

I like that one, Circles, You Were Making Circles Around Me. I don't know who it's by. A folk group. I watch MTV at least once a day, but sometimes my brother and his wife think I should have a rest from sitting there glued to the telly. But Björk was on tonight. I Play Dead.

Did you see her on the BRIT Awards with Polly Harvey? They were fantastic.

Yeah I did! I was pleased with it. Satisfaction. I liked her having a go at it, yeah. Quite good. That's the first time I've seen her [Polly].

What else do you do?

Nothing much. I don't do much with my life at all. Just survive. I got into trouble, a hell of a lot of trouble. I ended up in prison. For threatening behaviour. A long time ago. But I haven't been doing much since I went to prison, 'cos they change your metabolism. It all changes into a kind of very plain ordinary thing, you know.

When was that?

I'm not sure if I can keep track of the dates. I threatened to shoot Clifford Davis, the group's manager. I wanted some money from him 'cos I was living in people's houses or hotels and things, sleeping around. He said he hasn't got any of my money, David Simmonds has got it, our accountant. I said, Look I'll shoot you. I recently bought a gun from Canada. It was like a fairground rifle, pump-action thing, made of nickel. It looked really nice. It was only like a toy but it did fire bullets. The police picked up on me and said, We hear you've got a gun. I said, Yeah, are you going to confiscate it? 'cos where I bought it you don't need a licence but in this country you do. They confiscated it and took me down to Marylebone Station where I spent the night and from there on I went to various prisons.

How long were you in prison for?

A couple of months, I'm not sure. I'd forgotten what I did. Also I got married, but we split up almost immediately. A girl called Jane. I met her at Steve Thompson's house, a friend of mine who plays bass ...

He played with John Mayall. He was on Turning Point.

Yeah, that's him. I used to go round to his house a lot at nights and listen to records. Listen to Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, black music, old blues, all kinds of things. I met her round there! I proposed to her from a hospital where I was. I'm not sure why I was there. I think it was because I was giving my money away and they put it down to drugs, too much LSD. Giving me tranquillisers was the only thing they could think of doing. Any money that I didn't need I wanted to give it to buy food for starvation round the world. I asked the rest of the group if they wanted to do it, but they didn't want to do it, not really. Mick Fleetwood didn't want to do it, the rest of them said they would.

I talked to Mick and John about this very incident last night.

You talked to John, did you? Where did you contact John?

In Los Angeles.

I thought John was living in Hawaii on a boat. I saw a picture of it.

Well he was in Los Angeles last night. We talked about lots of things, about the way you made the records. Mick said you "already had the big picture" in your mind, that you knew how you wanted everything to sound.

Nah. It was nothing like that. There's such a lot of stuff ... I was with a guy who wanted to do my autobiography. I didn't want to do it at first. Then I asked myself, Why don't I want to do it? Perhaps I should do it. So he came down to see me and all he had was quotes from other people who know me who I met up in the business. And the quotes about me were just wrong. They were wrong. Completely wrong.

You mean the information was wrong or you didn't agree with their opinions?

Wrong information. Not their opinions. It was just incorrect information. It just kept feeding through. It kept on coming. You're doing that as well now. You're giving me wrong information.

Well, I'm just telling you what they told to me.

Yeah, well they must be having a joke with you.

What do you remember about Fleetwood Mac? Are they happy memories?

I remember all of it. I was the founder member. It was down to me they existed. Mike Vernon or someone - Johnny Gunnel of Gunnel's Agency who had John Mayall - said you can make records with Blue Horizon, they're just starting out, they're looking for blues groups. So I did. Mike Vernon sent me up to see Jeremy Spencer. I went and saw him. I could see he was a little villain, you know. I thought I'd give it a try. Mick on drums. He said, all right. I couldn't get John McVie 'cos he was with John Mayall. So I got Bob Brunning, I thought he might develop nicely. Making Green Manalishi was one of the best memories. The mixing down of it in the studio. And listening to it back. I thought it would make Number 1. Lots of drums. Bass guitars. All kinds of things. Doubled-up on bass guitars. Six string basses. Tracking on it. Danny Kirwan and me playing those shrieking guitars together.

I was listening to Oh Well just last week. It still sounds wonderful.

I like the B-side of Oh Well. The Spanish guitar bit was the first bit I had of Oh Well. Didn't have the rest of it. I had the Spanish guitar bit come to me. I bought a Flamenco guitar to play it with. It was on Side Two. You like it? I heard people like it. The group carried on doing it, didn't they? Lindsey Buckingham carried on doing it.

Have you heard it recently? You should listen to it again!

No. A little bit of it comes on to Sky Television on an advert for jeans, a little bit of me singing about Oh Well.

I bloody well hope you're getting some royalties for it.

Woooah. I don't know. I can't tell. My lawyer is collecting for me. She said I should collect my money. I wouldn't know how to chase up about it, but my lawyer, she would know how to do it.

How did you get the others to play the music the way you wanted it?

I taught them it. I taught them their lines. I said, It goes like this. Which was hard for John 'cos he was a pretty hard customer to please, 'cos he'd played with Eric Clapton.

When did you last pick up a guitar?

I don't know. Long time ago. Hell of a long time ago.

I saw you in the Golden Lion in Fulham Road in about 1982.

The Golden Lion? Was I? Don't remember that. You sure it was me 'cos there's someone going around imitating me?

Oh it was definitely you. I get the impression that you're a lot happier than you appeared to be back then.

No, I'm not really happy. I'm very plain. When you've been stuck in prison and you're in London and you haven't done very much. I feel very plain. Life is very plain. Very truthful, like. When you're in prison for something you didn't really do ...

But that was a long time ago, wasn't it?

Yeah, that was a fair while ago. I can't remember the date. I'm not good on dates.

But it still upsets you.

Nah, I didn't get upset ... I quite enjoyed it! You got up early. Never know when night falls. They'd turn the lights on for a while and then they'd turn them off.

What happened after you got out of prison?

Nah, I'm sorry. I don't keep track of every moment 'cos you don't need to. You don't think it's going to come in use for anybody.

Well I'd love to hear about the early days in London, the blues clubs.

I saw Jimi Hendrix. I quite liked him. I used to idolise Eric Clapton at first. I thought his playing was absolutely thrilling, yeah.

A hard act to follow in John Mayall's group.

Oh, I couldn't hardly play anything at all. I was very novice.

How did you get the job then?

John said I could play a little bit and he said, You've got the feeling, or something like this. Anyway, he let me on the train. I did well for myself. I was only there for a week, then I got in with Peter B's Looners. I was with his band for about a year, then Eric Clapton was forming The Cream and I bumped into John Mayall on the road and John Mayall said Eric Clapton's going to form The Cream, with Ginger and Jack, do you want to come with me and get some experience? And be a blues band again instead of Booker T & The MGs and soul sections? I said, Yes I would very much like it. But I was only just starting. I wasn't a blues guitarist. I could play Hank Marvin stuff, Teen Scene by The Hunters, those old instrumentals. I could play all those fine. Semi-pro I was. But I chucked in my job ... I've done a lot of jobs, you know.

What jobs have you had?

I worked in a graveyard once. Grave maintenance. Just cutting grass.

I remember that. Why did you do it?

I don't know. I just think I had to go to work. I don't know why. To make someone laugh, in the end, probably. But anyway, it didn't make me laugh. It was hard work sometimes.

Was it a deliberate attempt to get as far away from being a rock star as possible?

No, no. No deliberate attempt, no. I just use to take LSD and I took it one time too many. I only took it about eight times in all.

John said there was a terrible incident in Munich ...

Yeah, they said they had a mansion, a house in the country, great big place it was. And I went back with one of the road managers and he gave me some LSD, so I ate it and I'd got my guitar so we played around with some music for a while. And then I just sat around and thought about everything. I was thinking so fast! I couldn't believe how fast I was thinking! And I kinda run out of thoughts. I must have been thinking solid for about an hour. Just sitting down on my mattress.

Have you got any regrets about the things that have happened to you?

Nah, not really. No. No, I haven't.

You wouldn't have lived your life any other way?

What would I leave out? What would I change? I wouldn't know where to begin changing.

John and Mick send their love to you. Is there anything I can tell them from you?

Tell them I'm sorry I let them down. I couldn't carry on doing it, for whatever reason. I think it was too much drugs. They [the management] tried to put someone onto me - a tough guy, a sparring partner - and he tried to punch me back to life but it didn't work.

Who was he?

Some bloke. Some tough guy. I don't really think I should talk about it. 'Cos he could get done for assault and battery. 'Cos we started off walking along together and ... he was trying to show me that I wasn't prepared for everything that could happen to people.

Who sent him?

Clifford Davis, I imagine.

The manager?

Put him onto me. Gave me a bit of a bashing.

I can't believe how optimistic you sound now. You've had so many terrible experiences.

Yeah, I feel I'm coming through now. I'm hopeful nowadays.


I wouldn't know the answer to that question. Tell John and Mick if you see them that I'm sorry I couldn't be more help to them. I took one too many LSD trips. And that one puts me in the Care & Attention category.

You give me the impression you're getting better, though.

No, not really.

Do you keep in touch with the outside world?

No, I just zombie around. That's what I do. I'm taking tablets of some kind. I don't know what they're supposed to do for me. They make me sleepy. I fall asleep in the daytime. I never used to do that.

Do you read the papers or watch the news?

I don't read the newspapers. I didn't use to watch the news when I was a musician. I watch whatever's on, whatever my mother and my brother are watching. We watch a lot of films on Sky Television - all kinds, Westerns, you name it, swashbucklers.

What was the last concert you saw?

Eric Clapton, I suppose, at The Rainbow. Oh no, I went to see my brother's son. He plays saxophone in a Canvey Island group. Friday People they're called. The done the Rock Garden a few weeks back. They were good. Little bit loud.

Do you ever meet people who recognise you?

Yeah. Someone recognised me at the day centre the other day. Great long ginger hair he had. He said to me, You're not the Peter Green are you? And I said, yeah I suppose I would be. He kept asking me questions. Just like you!

Thanks to Julie for posting this article to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.