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Peter Green is On The Loose

Guitarist leaves Fleetwood Mac after a three-year spell

May 14, 1970
Peter Green
Peter Green in Barnet, London.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

LONDON – The latest groups to split up in what's become an almost daily British phenomenon are the Nice, Spooky Tooth and Fleetwood Mac.

Keith Emerson, organist of the Nice, is forming a new trio with King Crimson bass guitarist Greg Lake, and an as yet un-named drummer. They hope to be on the road within the next two months.

Spooky Tooth, one of Britain's best progressive groups, is to break up with the release of their new, and last album in early May. Members of the group will pursue separate careers.

For the same reason, with an interesting twist, Fleetwood Mac loses leader Peter Green. Singer, songwriter, and one of the best rock guitarists in the country, Green is quitting the group after three years and giving a large part of his money to charity: "I want to lead a freer and more selfless life along Christian principles."

Green has been the key figure in Fleetwood Mac's success. Although they never made it big in the States, where the money is, they've had three big chart hits in Britain and can also count on the following of the faithful from their old days as a blues band. But Green was obviously the big draw, that something extra that made the group tick. Although they have a back-up lead guitarist in Jeremy Spencer, Green's departure leaves the group with problems.

100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Peter Green

More so since Spencer has just completed his first solo album of his own material (Jeremy Spencer, Reprise). Whether they find a replacement for Green or decide to make it without him, their future must be in doubt.

Not so for Peter Green. He is going ahead with plans for solo albums and free concerts, "with friends I like jamming with."

"I've got to do what God would have me do, start some kind of positive action, despite newspaper distortion or whatever," says Green of his decision. "I'm not worried if it means I'll fade from public view – it's better to set a good example."

Since his decision became public property, Green has received upwards of 500 begging letters. But he intends on donating the money (just how much he won't say) to a major international charity.

"Money is not important. We should love one another, care for one another. One of the most common attitudes in pop today is that you've got to make it while you can and stash it away for the future. That's rubbish. I know I'll always be able to play, always be able to work."

He leaves the group, he says, with no hard feelings on either side.

Which is indicative of the feeling in the air. The Nice, who've been together for three years, have disbanded because they feel musically involved outside the structure of the group. Emerson will make his own music with his new trio, bassist Lee Jackson is to start a new group, and drummer Brian Davison will get together with friends for recording.

Everything will be Nicer than before, except the money. Manager Tony Stratton-Smith says the split means they've turned their backs on $250,000 – "in theory."

Spooky Tooth were already down to three of the five original numbers following a split after their American tour late last year. The final break-up comes unexpectedly, at a time when they're on the crest of a progressive wave. Lead guitarist Luther Grosvenor is to form and lead a new group, lead vocalist Mike Harrison is to work as a solo singer, with assistance from drummer Mike Kellie.

The two newest members of the group, Alan Spenner and Henry McCulloch, have no definitive plans.

The group's consensus on the break up: "sad, but no bad feeling at all."

This story is from the May 14th, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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