Fleetwood Mac founding guitarist Peter Green has died, as the BBC reports. A statement issued on behalf of his family reads, “It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Green announce his death this weekend, peacefully in his sleep.” He was 73 years old.
An influential musician, Green was a prominent figure in the scene of British blues guitarists that included Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. The late B.B. King described him as “the only white guitarist who sent shivers up” his spine. He was responsible for naming Fleetwood Mac, a portmanteau of the names of his desired rhythm section (drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie), and formed the band in 1967.
Born Peter Allen Greenbaum, Green was 20 years old when he replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s band the Bluesbreakers. At the time, Mayall famously told his producer, “He might not be better [than Clapton] now. But you wait… he’s going to be the best.” After departing that group, Green formed the original Fleetwood Mac with Fleetwood, McVie, and guitarist Jeremy Spencer. Green recorded three albums with the group—their debut self-titled, Mr. Wonderful, and Then Play On—before departing the band in 1970 as his mental health sharply declined.
For many years, Green battled schizophrenia. An infamous LSD party at a German commune was long touted in the Fleetwood Mac mythos as a turning point for Green. He spent a period of years in and out of mental hospitals. He mounted a comeback in 1996 with a new band, the Splinter Group. He began touring under the name Peter Green and Friends in the 2000s.