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Guitar Magazine, Shades of Green

Guitar Magazine, October 1997

Shades of Green
Interview by Andy Hughes

Missing in action for 25 years, Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green is back with the blues

The whereabouts of Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green have been the stuff of legend, ever since the British blues guitarist unexpectedly left the band in 1969. Unable to cope with fame and, by his admission, the victim of too many bad acid trips, Green disappeared from public view in the early 1970s, fighting against a series of mental breakdowns that left him unable to care for himself.

Now back in health and out of hiding, Green is rekindling his career as one of the masters of blues guitar. We caught up with Green as his group finished a show at Wheatsheaf, a small club in the middle of England. Explaining his departures from the famous group he helped create, Green said: "I was the writer of the hits for Fleetwood Mac, and I guess I was just big- headed and I stopped learning on the guitar. I had to go right back to the beginning again, right back to learning three chords, then four chords, and so on, and make sure I picked up the bits I missed first time around."

Was the decision to play live again an easy one to reach? Well...[laughs] I've told this story over a few times! I wasn't going to bother playing the guitar again, but Nigel [Watson, his guitarist] came along and...he got me back into practicing and just playing along to see if I still enjoyed it. I did go through a time when I didn't touch a guitar. I was still listening to music, but I wasn't playing at all.

What about the famous stories from your past, namely that you grew your fingernails long almost as a statement of your refusal to play the guitar?

I didn't refuse to play the guitar, I just didn't play, that's all. [Now] I practice all day long.

What equipment are you using these days?

My amplifier is a Fender Blues DeVille. It's only a small amp, and I mike it up. It gives me a good sound.

In most people's minds you'll always be associated with Gibson guitars.

That's true, I do play Gibson guitars. I used to play Gibson Les Paul guitars exclusively, but I don't now. I've still got a black Les Paul, but I play other things as well. I don't tie myself down to just one thing.

Given the variety of musical styles that have evolved over the years, do you still long for the purity of the blues?

More than ever! Every night when [the band] announces that we're doing [a song by] Robert Johnson, I always think I'll get to the microphone and I'll say, "We're addicts!" We are true Robert Johnson addicts. That's what his music is like--it's truly addictive.

What's your favorite song of all those you have written?

[Long pause] I don't know. "Green Manalishi" [a 1970 British hit for Fleetwood Mac] I think is the most interesting. It's all about having too much money and all the harm it does, because I was the writer of hits for the group. I was the sole writer, [or] at least it felt like I was.

Do you ever think what might have been if you'd stayed with Fleetwood Mac?

Not really, there's no point thinking over things like that. We just wanted different things, I think.

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