Mick Fleetwood: Why Peter Green was the greatest guitarist

19 December 2020

9:00 AM

19 December 2020

9:00 AM

In a normal week, I would jam with local musicians, but that stopped in March and we musicians miss the road and our crews. There have been some good things to come out of this awful year, though. A new world was revealed to me on TikTok, an app that lets people upload clips of themselves lip-syncing or dancing. And out of TikTok came Nathan Apodaca, a man from Idaho who recorded a video of himself skateboarding to work while sipping from a bottle of cranberry juice and singing along to our song ‘Dreams’. More than 70 million people have watched Nathan’s video, and we have since spoken and he is the sweetest man. A lot of people out there are struggling, and Nathan’s ‘Dreams’ video is a great celebration of joyfulness and being in the moment. I recommend it to you. The best expression of feeling is often completely spontaneous and without any point at all.

I was in London at the end of February, just before the virus struck, to put on a tribute concert for Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green at the Palladium. Peter was our great leader until his demons — and drugs — got the better of him and he left the band in 1970. I’ve never played with anyone who comes close to him: he was the greatest guitarist ever. He also had the most wonderful voice. Peter might not necessarily be a household name, but if you were to ask the best guitar players in the world ‘Who is Peter Green?’, they would all tell you that he is one of their idols. I didn’t see Peter while I was in London. I accepted a long time ago that he was not fully coming back — not to Fleetwood Mac or to the world. After years of hoping that the old Peter would return, I let go and accepted him for who he was. All that really mattered was just having his presence in my life.

Peter died in July. It was an incredibly poignant and sad moment for me. Fleetwood Mac would never have existed without him. He named the band after his rhythm section of me and John McVie — Mac — because he was generous and because he had no ego. We came from different worlds: he from the Jewish, working-class East End of London; me from a somewhat semi-privileged English family, yet we met in the middle and formed an incredibly special bond. As a musician, the first thing you want to hear is that someone wants to play with you because you’re shit-hot as a player. But I know that he asked me to be in Fleetwood Mac because I was sad after breaking up with the then love of my life, Jenny. As a close friend, he didn’t want to see me like that — and he thought I needed something to do. That was Peter. He said: ‘You can do this. Oh, and by the way, when you do this, it’s going to stop you whimpering around being so unhappy.’

A lot of people, including myself, are going to be quite challenged after everything that has happened this year. Perhaps the one good thing that has come out of the slowing down of our lives is that it has given people the chance to re-evaluate what really matters, whether creatively, socially or even politically. Having a break from being on the road has made me appreciate aspects of my life that were easier to ignore when everything was fast-paced, especially the importance of family and friends. I still feel like I am 18 years old, but I’m 73. Looking back at what I have learned along the way, maybe I didn’t always fully appreciate the simplicity of life.

We musicians are all trying to find new ways to connect our music with our fans while we remain distant from one another. I recently did a song with Dave Mason of Traffic. For ten days we exchanged files, folders and clips over email to get the piece done. I’ve also been working on a new project called Da*da*ism. It is a fun, crazy, out-there album, something very fitting after the year we have had.

A very long time ago I might have been on the road at Christmas with Fleetwood Mac. We’d find ourselves in some motel, eating peanut butter sandwiches. I’m a road dog, but even my love for touring would get tested when I was away for Christmas. I had hoped before the virus that the family would come to Maui. There is now, at least, light at the end of the tunnel. And when we come out of this, it is important that we all emerge with two feet on the ground, mentally and physically. Christmas in Hawaii is no different from anywhere else, there’s just better weather. Dinner is all about the turkey and we pretend the palm trees are Christmas trees. Wherever we are, Christmas is, for me, all about being able to rejoice that everyone feels the same joy, at least for one moment, at the same time.

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