Jeremy Spencer remembers Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green: ‘I owe him a lot’
Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer has paid tribute to the band’s co-founder Peter Green following his death at the weekend at the age of 73.
Spencer, 72, was part of the original line-up of the band alongside Green, whose death was announced by solicitors representing his family, saying the musician had died “peacefully in his sleep”.
In a statement to the PA news agency, Spencer said: “Hearing of Peter’s passing on made me recall my last phone conversation with him in March of this year.
“It was, as other calls over the last few years, pleasant communication, covering different topics. I believe he is finding the peace now that was forfeited him here.
“I owe him a lot, teaching me the importance of emotion and ‘less is more’ in music. In the words of Shakespeare ‘If music be the food of love, THEN PLAY ON’. So then, Peter, till we meet again. Play on!”
Fellow musicians Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks also remembered Green.
Fleetwood and Green formed the influential group in London in 1967, alongside John McVie and Spencer, who left the band in 1971 to “pursue a spiritual path”, according to his official website.
Nicks signed with the band in 1975, five years after Green had quit amid struggles with his mental health.
In an emotional tribute, Fleetwood described Green as “my dearest friend” and said they “trail blazed one hell of a musical road for so many to enjoy”.
“For me, and every past and present member of Fleetwood Mac, losing Peter Green is monumental,” he said.
“Peter was the man who started the band Fleetwood Mac along with myself, John McVie, and Jeremy Spencer. No-one has ever stepped into the ranks of Fleetwood Mac without a reverence for Peter Green and his talent, and to the fact that music should shine bright and always be delivered with uncompromising passion.”
The 73-year-old added: “Peter, I will miss you, but rest easy your music lives on. I thank you for asking me to be your drummer all those years ago. We did good, and trail blazed one hell of a musical road for so many to enjoy.
“God speed to you, my dearest friend … Love Mick Fleetwood.”
Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac alongside her then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham and helped make the band one of the world’s most successful.
The singer said her biggest regret was not sharing a stage with Green.
Nicks posted on social media: “I am sorry to hear about the passing of Peter Green. My biggest regret is that I never got to share the stage with him. I always hoped in my heart of hearts that that would happen.
“When I first listened to all the Fleetwood Mac records, I was very taken with his guitar playing. It was one of the reasons I was excited to join the band.
“His legacy will live on forever in the history books of Rock n Roll. It was in the beginning, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and I thank you, Peter Green, for that. You changed our lives.”
Green, the influential blues rock guitarist, whose songs included Albatross and Oh Well, was born into a Jewish family in Bethnal Green in London’s East End.
He formed Fleetwood Mac with drummer Fleetwood in London in 1967, after a stint in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – filling in for Eric Clapton.
Green and Fleetwood wanted McVie to join the group on bass, and named the band Fleetwood Mac to entice him – a strategy that was ultimately successful.
Under his direction, the band produced three albums and a series of well-loved tracks including Black Magic Woman, Man Of The World and Oh Well.
Green composed the instrumental Albatross, which remains Fleetwood Mac’s only UK number one single, hitting the top of the charts in January 1969.
Carlos Santana’s 1970 version of Black Magic Woman, in which he added conga and timbales drums, became one of the Mexican-American’s biggest hits.
Green left Fleetwood Mac after a final performance in 1970 as he struggled with mental health difficulties and spiralling drug use, later sleeping rough.
He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in hospitals undergoing electro-convulsive therapy during the mid-1970s.
The band continued with a transformed line-up featuring a core group of Fleetwood, Nicks, Buckingham, McVie and Christine McVie.
This phase gave rise to their hugely successful albums Fleetwood Mac and Rumours.
Green emerged from obscurity on a number of occasions, forming the Peter Green Splinter Group in the late 1990s with Nigel Watson and Cozy Powell.
They released nine albums between 1997 and 2004.
Green was among the eight members — along with Fleetwood, Nicks, Buckingham, the McVies, Danny Kirwan and Spencer — inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Earlier this year, artists including Fleetwood, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and guitarists Jonny Lang and Andy Fairweather Low performed at the London Palladium during a gig celebrating the early years of Fleetwood Mac and Green.
Green married Jane Samuels in January 1978. They divorced in 1979 and have a daughter.