I wouldn’t normally post on two consecutive days, but yesterday saw the loss of one of the greatest guitarists this country – or any other – has produced. Most people of my generation were probably introduced to his music by his band’s number one hit Albatross, but there was much more to Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – to give them their full name – than that. I have loved this guy’s music since the very early days, and it seems right that I mark his passing, as I have done with some of my other musical heroes. Sadly, we are all getting older, and those passings are much more frequent than I’d like!
As my tribute, I’m sharing six of the band’s early singles, in chronological order. All were only released at the time as singles, though they have of course featured on many compilations since then. They take me back to the days when bands treated the singles chart as being at least as important as the albums chart – just think how many of the Beatles’ #1 hits weren’t originally on albums and you’ll get my drift.
Their first foray into the top 40 was actually their third single, the previous two having done little in sales terms. This one was my introduction to the band:
It may come as a surprise to some to learn that Carlos Santana didn’t write that song: Peter Green did, and it’s a great showcase for his bluesy voice and superb guitar playing. Released in early 1968, it reached #37 in the UK charts.
Their next single fared slightly better, reaching #31. I wonder if something as soulful as this would reach the top 40 today, amongst all the autotuned nonentities:
Their third hit of 1968 was the one with which they hit the big time, so much so, in fact, that I didn’t need to buy the record – my Mum beat me to it. Talk about a crossover!
That piece of simple beauty reached #1 in summer 1968. Sadly, the US never ‘got’ this incarnation of the band, but they were important here in the UK and two members retained their part of the name for the later version that we know as Fleetwood Mac.
The band had another two UK hit singles in 1969 (out of three releases). This was the first of those:
That reached #2 in the UK. It is, I think, one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and is still one of my top two all time favourite songs, more than fifty years on.
They also had a #2 hit with their next single:
I love the way Peter has to pause for a moment’s thought before announcing the song, and the wry smile when he remembers the title! That was the only one of their singles to chart in the US, attaining a peak of #55. It took a further five years, several changes in band membership, and a change in style before the new version of the band broke big across the pond.
The original line up’s final UK hit came in 1970:
That got as high as #10. It features some wonderful guitar playing, and has a kind of eerie menace about it which I think is great. I remember getting home after buying the single and asking my Mum if she wanted to hear the new record by the ‘Albatross band.’ It lifted her out of her chair!
RIP Peter Green. Thank you for the music, which lives on.