During his discussion of his new book Love that Burns, Mick Fleetwood told tales of early Fleetwood Mac, his admiration and respect for former band member Peter Green, and how the band evolved over the years from an underground blues sensation in England to a quintet of American icons.
Kicking off the conversation, Fleetwood introduced his book, the first part of a multi-volume series spanning the history of his band, Fleetwood Mac. When acclaimed minimalist and blues guitarist Peter Green tried out for the band, Fleetwood now admits he didn’t think he was the guitarist the group needed.
“Peter became known as one of the magnificent feel guitar players of the world,” Fleetwood said. “However, after he had played I commented that he doesn’t play more than two notes. Peter Barton, much to his credit, said ‘No no no, you’re not hearing it.’ And he was right.”
He stated that initially, Peter Green was the standout leader of the band, but was more a friend than anything. He kept playing with Fleetwood to help bring him out of a time of depression after a hard breakup, and Green’s place in the band was one of sensitivity considering his troubling childhood.
“Part of our friendship was bringing the duality of different worlds together,” Fleetwood said. “Looking back at a bit of the band’s history, his childhood did effect him. The ambiance, not to be corny, but to talk about blues is to talk about feelings. He was perfectly aligned with that.”
Once the band found success in England, they moved on to try and conquer America. However, once the band arrived and was greeted by the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood and his band mates quickly realized they were in over their heads, committing dirty acts on stage that brought crowds in the Bible belt to almost get them arrested.
Green left the band in 1970 due to a personal mental decline, and after his departure, Fleetwood noted that the band felt lost and without a figurehead.
“We didn’t have a boss,” Fleetwood said. “We were petrified. Imagine if you were a platoon on the front line, and things weren’t going well. Then half the platoon leaves. You turn around, and think ‘We better fucking do something.” It gave us one shot. Either we abandoned ship… or take it on.”
Since, the band has gone on to create even more timeless records, turning to pop music and the leadership of Stevie Nicks and Linsey Buckingham to dominate mainstream music. However, Fleetwood decided to hold that part of the story for his return to South by when he releases Volume 2 of his book.