REMEMBERING PETER GREEN 1946-2020
– by Richard and Mike Vernon
In life you will meet countless people but very few make the lasting impression that Peter Green made on us – both musically and personally. A man with so much talent and so little ego. We owe him greatly for allowing us to establish and build our own record company Blue Horizon around him and his band Fleetwood Mac and also in helping us to find new acts to record and in so doing to assist in the expansion of the Blue Horizon ‘family’. For in many ways Blue Horizon was a true family – everyone involved being encouraged to help each other in their musical endeavours. In this way did we sign Tony ‘Duster’ Bennett and Gordon Smith. We also contracted Chicagoans Eddie Boyd and Otis Spann – both would record albums with Fleetwood Mac. Champion Jack Dupree recorded albums with Mick Taylor – at that time with John Mayall; Stan Webb of Chicken Shack and Black Cat Bones – whose line-up included Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke. It was our joint enthusiasm that pushed us forward and Peter was always there with words of encouragement – it was all about the ‘family’ and not the individual.
When “Black Magic Woman” hit the National Charts in 1967 there was much excitement in the ranks – an original Green song that would later become a smash hit in the U.S. when covered by Santana. Then came “Need Your Love So Bad” – originally recorded by Little Willie John – followed, somewhat surprisingly, by the instrumental “Albatross” which reached the #1 spot on the U.K. Charts during early 1969. Sadly, we were to lose control of the band’s recording commitments at the very time when we were already working on “Man Of The World” as a follow-up to “Albatross”. The departure of Peter, Jeremy, Danny, John and Mick proved to be a blow for the label. But life must go on and so it was – more of a struggle and very challenging but not so rewarding! We watched with interest to see how Fleetwood Mac’s career would develop without our help.
The sad departure of Peter Green from this ‘mortal coil’ brings back so many memories. His laidback approach to life in general; his wickedly dry sense of humour; his constantly friendly attitude to all and sundry were there clearly to be seen. His talent as a guitarist, harmonicist, vocalist and songwriter was extraordinary and totally unique. Peter’s deft touch and feel for the Blues was, in our opinion, near to being faultless as could be imagined – evidence the Eddie Boyd and Otis Spann sessions in particular. He knew exactly when and what to play and he never overplayed – that was close to a sin in his mind! His vocal prowess was also ‘right on the money’ in a relaxed manner and yet sometimes pushed with an urgency that would surprise the listener. He spent a lot of time working on his phrasing and staying in tune – not that either ever seemed to be a problem for him. He was, after all, a Bluesman – plain and simple. But both Richard and I fell in love with his song writing abilities – “Man Of The World” and “Oh Well” in particular being forever firm favourites. Humility and his inner self combined with, perhaps, a sadness of heart brought out the very best in him – both those songs are treasures.
Neither of us had seen or spoken with Peter for well over twenty years – that might be seen as a serious misdemeanour by some but often in life our individual paths are not planned as to cross each other. Nevertheless, those close to three years – back in the late 1960s – that we all spent together working on making music will remain in our memory for the rest of our lives. ‘Thank you’ Peter for being you. R.I.P.
RICHARD & MIKE VERNON
We send our heartfelt condolences to Peter’s family members and his close friends as well as the many musicians who have worked with him over the years – many still with us and some not.
Tribute reproduced here with permission.
Mike Vernon is a Patron of the UKBlues Federation