Peter Green has died. As one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac, and a regular feature on lists cataloging the greatest guitar players of all time, Green shaped the sound of blues and rock guitar in the 1960s, filling it with wailing vibratos and haunting string bends. Per BBC News, he died this weekend in his sleep, at the age of 73. No cause of death has been announced.
Born in London in 1946, Green wasted little time before diving into the world of blues guitar, playing in several short-lived bands before stepping up as Eric Clapton’s replacement in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. (Re-teaming, in the process, with once-and-future bandmate Mick Fleetwood.) It was with the Bluesbreakers that Green refined what would come to be his signature playing style, deployed most memorably on one of his first big instrumental credits, “The Supernatural.”
In 1967, Green and Fleetwood broke out on their own, bringing in bass guitarist Jeremy Spencer (and, eventually, former Bluesbreaker John McVie) to form Fleetwood Mac. Green’s guitar—sad, sweet, soaring—defined the sound of the band’s first, most blues-y incarnation, on songs like “Albatross,” “Black Magic Woman,” and “Man Of The World.” And it was Green’s disconnection from the group that heralded the first of several forced transformations that would become synonymous with its name.
Releasing four studio albums between 1968 and 1970—including its first (of two) self-titled offerings—Fleetwood Mac was touring successfully in 1970 when Green’s increasing drug use began to be a problem for the group. In later years, Green would talk about his heavy use of LSD during the period; he also noted that “I went kind of holy—no, not holy, religious. I thought I could do it, I thought I was all right on drugs.” He played his last official performance with the band in May of 1970. Green released a single solo album, The End Of The Game, later that year, before essentially disappearing from the musical world for the next decade. He reportedly spent the bulk of the 1970s in recovery and treatment, both from drugs, as well as a diagnosis with schizophrenia.
Green later re-emerged to have a long and successful solo career—starting with his “middle period” between 1979 and 1984, when he released another six studio albums. He continued to tour and play throughout the 1990s and 2000s, most notably with the Peter Green Splinter Group, focused primarily on his blues roots. In 1998, he was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, along with seven other members of Fleetwood Mac, from throughout the band’s long and twisting career.