Fleetwood Mac will always be most associated with the Lindsey Buckingham-Stevie Nicks era, thanks to the band's 1977 blockbuster Rumours. But the group's been around since the late '60s. Back then, they were fronted by the prodigiously talented Peter Green, who met drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie as members of John Mayall’s band. Together with Jeremy Spencer and then Danny Kirwan, they helped craft Fleetwood Mac's singular vision of Chicago blues. By the end of the decade, Green would suffer through drug-fueled mental problems, leading to a diagnosis of schizophrenia that prompted his departure from the group in 1970. Other than one-off appearances on 1973's Penguin and 1979's Tusk, Green would never record with his old band again. As as our list of the Top 10 Peter Green Fleetwood Mac Songs shows, however, the singer and guitarist had already left quite a mark.
"Stop Messin' Round"From: 'Mr. Wonderful' (1968)
One of the best examples of the Green era of Fleetwood Mac's canny ability to mimic deep blues styles, this song was later covered by both Aerosmith and Gary Moore. "Stop Messin' Round" was a highlight of the band's sophomore album, Mr. Wonderful, which introduced some funky horns and, though uncredited, a keyboardist named Christine Perfect. Later taking her bass-playing husband's name, she would would appear as Christine McVie on every Fleetwood Mac album through 1995's Time.
"The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)'"From: 1970 Single
This psychedelic gem became an unlikely Top 10 single in the U.K., even as it shed light on the personal problems plaguing Green at the time. In an LSD-induced fugue, he renounced all worldly items (an underlying theme in this song), even though his bandmates weren't quite so inclined. Perhaps unsurprisingly, "The Green Manalishi" was Green's last single with Fleetwood Mac.
"Long Grey Mare"From: 'Fleetwood Mac' (1968)
Occasionally lost in the fiery blues breakdowns and personal difficulties that have long framed Green's tenure with Fleetwood Mac are shimmering moments of vulnerability like "Long Grey Mare," which also underscores his sly humor – not to mention some scalding harp work.
"Rattlesnake Shake"From: 'Then Play On' (1969)
On the torrid "Rattlesnake Shake," Green explores a dirty funk riff and a darkly intriguing storyline before he unleashes a thunderous solo amid an appropriately reptilian sizzle by Mick Fleetwood. Around this time, Danny Kirwan had replaced fellow blues lover Jeremy Spencer, and Fleetwood Mac began moving into more pop-oriented music.
"Love That Burns"From: 'Mr. Wonderful (1968)
With "Love That Burns," Green set a template for every one of Eric Clapton's legendary slow-burn white-blues howls, years before the guitar god got around to it. Coiled and mournful, this track was co-written with manager Clifford Davis, who'd later have a falling out with the band after trying to mount a tour with another lineup under the Fleetwood Mac name.
"If I Loved Another Woman"From: 'Fleetwood Mac' (1968)
"If I Loved Another Woman" works as a kind of preview of the sound Green would perfect on his signature Latin blues number "Black Magic Woman" (see later on our list of the Top 10 Peter Green Fleetwood Mac Songs). Here, however, he keeps things at an intriguingly slow boil, with only Mick Fleetwood's insistent percussive asides nudging things along.
"Man of the World"From: 1968 Single
"Man of the World," a sadly appropriate song about someone who gets everything he thought he wanted but still somehow can't find happiness, peaked at No. 2 on the U.K. charts in 1969. But the delicately executed ballad, for some reason, was never released in the U.S.
"Albatross"From: 'English Rose' (1968)
This touching instrumental finds Green creating a sea-faring dreamscape, with Mick Fleetwood's timpani-mallet rhythmic touches adding to the scene-setting ambiance. "Albatross" not only topped the U.K. chart, it's said to have inspired both Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and the Beatles, who used the song as a jumping off point for 1969's "Sun King."
"Oh Well"From: 1969 Single
One of the few Green tracks that found a home in the Lindsey Buckingham-era concert sets lists, the episodic "Oh Well" is perhaps Fleetwood Mac's most progressive moment. Hard-edged at times, coming off something like chamber-pop at others, this No. 2 U.K. hit remains a titanic achievement. During its most turbulent moments, it sorta serves as one of the precursors to heavy metal.
"Black Magic Woman"From: 'English Rose' (1968)
Mick Fleetwood once described this as "three minutes of sustain reverb guitar with two exquisite solos from Peter." Green recorded "Black Magic Woman" two years before Santana covered it and – just as Jimi Hendrix had with Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" – made the tune their own. The infrastructure of this soaring plea for an elusive love is already here, although Green’s contemplative solo leads to a surprisingly insistent call for reconciliation.