Setlist History: Fleetwood Mac's Last Show with Peter Green

When most people today think about Fleetwood Mac, they envision a soft rock collection of middle age hippies with two female singers and a giant behind the drums.

But during the first few years of the band, it was much different than that. Fleetwood Mac had an extremely successful triple guitar attack which could rock your face off with "Black Magic Woman" or help you drift off in a psychedelic journey with "Coming Your Way”

Many band's beginning's are humble. Not the Mac's. From their self-titled debut, the band founded by guitar hero Peter Green was a smashing success capable of charting right alongside the Beatles and the Stones in the UK.

Green himself was often compared to Eric Clapton's guitar prowess, but the greatest compliment came from B.B. King who said, "he has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats."

From the beginning Green was clearly the star but he wanted nothing to do with that. He named the band Fleetwood Mac after the drummer and the recently hired bassist. When it was suggested they call it Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac featuring Jeremy Spencer, Peter said, the band is Fleetwood Mac.

Others, however, often called it Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac because he was that legendary.

Some say his secret lay in his 1959 Les Paul that was later referred to as "Greeny."

This is a guitar with as wild of a story as any. It even has its own Wikipedia page.

With an eerie parallel to The One ring in Lord of the Rings, Greeny was owned by Green but played by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and now Kirk Hammett of Metallica - who says he's never far from it, even when he sleeps.

That magical guitar mixed with a creative genius who also happened to be a bit schizophrenic and who loved eating acid, created both beautiful music and a quick demise that led to the final show Fleetwood Mac had with Peter Green.

While on the road in support of their third LP, Then Play On, the band was met at the Munich airport by two odd characters, a beautiful woman and a man in a cape, who convinced them to join them after their gig to party with them at a huge mansion.

There, Green and guitarist Danny Kirwan, dropped acid and never fully came back. Fleetwood says Green was already on his way out due to his erratic behavior which would eventually lead to him dressing like Jesus Christ, but once that LSD trip started it never really ended, in part because it inspired him to continue to take more of it.

Recordings from those last gigs, though, show that whereever his mind was the rest of the day, when Peter Green was playing Greeny with Fleetwood Mac it was some of the best psychedelic blues rock anywhere.

But when the band made it to Bath on May 23, 1970, for the Spring Music Festival dubbed "the aquae sulis incident" (never again say Bonnaroo or the FYF Fest have weird names), some say close friends and family made the trek to the gig because they all knew it would be the last with Peter.

Peter the face of the band, the sound, the magic, and now also the madness.

But as fate would have it the festival ran nearly two hours long - damn hippies. The Mac was scheduled to go on last at 10pm. But after an inspired version of "Black Magic Woman," followed by "World in Harmony" they had already broken the midnight curfew of the show.

During "Underway," a jam they'd never play again and only one other band has had the courage to cover it (Los Lobos, only once), the organizers of the show pulled the plug on Fleetwood Mac.

Mick Fleetwood did not stop. He banged out his drum part for Spencer's "If I Could Swim the Mountain," and invited the dwindling crowd to join them on stage. Which they did, creating a cacophony of rebellion.

When the lights were turned off to encourage the audience to leave, some set bonfires in the field and danced around the flames sending out shadows of wickedness and mirth.

Once enough of the crowd had grown tired of the drumming and the dancing, and had left, the lights were turned back on, and with it, the amplifiers.

The machines would like a word. Greeny, in particular.

Not long after that last gig, Peter knew he wouldn't have a use for such a magical guitar, his interests had moved on from rock n' roll. But he didn't want Greeny to just waste away in a storage facility.

So he called one of his best friends, Gary Moore, and sold it to him for about $150. Moore said he had a hard time accepting it because not only was it legendary, but it still sounded as good as new. Peter insisted and Moore would use it for much of his career including during his time with Thin Lizzy.

Want to hear that tone B.B. was talking about? Of course Peter was great but when you hear Moore play it live with Thin Lizzy, it's like, Greeny, is that you?

At some point Moore got into a financial quandary and he couldn't play guitar, so he decided to do the unthinkable and sell Greeny because he knew he could probably get $1 million.

The guy he sold it to quickly flipped it and the guitar ended up in a world neither Green nor Moore wanted, which was this incredibly special instrument being objectified by people who don't really want to discover the magic it contains.

At one point people speculated it was worth over $2 million. Members of Metallica were approached to buy it, but only when Kirk Hammett play it did he realize the rumors were true, and although he didn't want to spend that sort of money for it, he would spend a lot.

But now he says he is rarely far from the guitar.

Even when he sleeps.

As for the Mac, they are not on tour right now and Stevie Nicks doubts they'll ever perform live again since Christie McVie died last year.

But if you want to hear the music of the Mac most are familiar with, you can hear it on Nicks' tour which is rolling this summer through the US and Europe.

Get your tickets on her website.

Kirk Hammett playing Peter Green's composition "The Green Manalishi" on Greeny with Mick Fleetwood during a tribute to Peter not long after his death.
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Last updated: 15 Jun 2024, 06:27 Etc/UTC