Mick Fleetwood’s ‘First Mistake’ With Peter Green
Mick Fleetwood said the “first mistake” he made in his fledgling music career concerned future Fleetwood Mac bandmate Peter Green.
At the time, the drummer had just recently started playing with other musicians. He'd practiced alone for several years until future Camel keyboardist Peter Bardens passed his home, heard the noise and asked him to join Peter B’s Looners.
The band soon attracted the interests of guitarist Green, who’d just completed a short stint with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers as a temporary replacement for Eric Clapton and arrived for the Fleetwood audition a few days before the group's next show.
“This is where I have my instant confession, which is the first mistake I ever made,” Fleetwood told Classic Rock in a recent interview. “We’d already tried a couple of guitar players. But we’d heard about Greeny. He walked in with his Les Paul in a little brown case, almost like a cello case. He plugged in, and I remember saying to Peter Bardens, ‘I don’t think he’s good enough. … He keeps playing the same thing.’ And of course what I was hearing was the simplicity of Peter’s playing. But I got flustered, thinking, ‘Is he going to be able to learn all these songs in three days?’”
Fleetwood recalled, "Right there and then, much to Peter Bardens’ credit, he said, ‘Mick, you’re wrong. This guy has style and tone, and he’s funky as hell.’ Of course, Greeny got the gig. And I’ve never scrambled so fast in my life to keep up over the next couple of weeks. I ended up with my mouth hanging open, going, ‘Oh, shit!’ Of course, the irony of the story is that I’m the hugest advocate of Peter Green. So thank God I got side-whacked and told to shut up.”
The drummer said he was sad Green didn’t live to see the results of 2020’s tribute concert. He died soon after the star-studded event took place and after deciding, for his own reasons, not to attend. “We had his seat ready, should he change his mind,” Fleetwood noted.
“Whenever I play in England, I always [told him]: ‘Well, you come if you want to, Peter.’ And he did. A couple of times he came to Fleetwood Mac shows at Wembley. He didn’t come to this show. But he was looking forward to seeing the footage. That didn’t happen, sadly.”