Flashback: Fleetwood Mac Play a Gut-Wrenching ‘Man of the World’ in 1969

Original Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green has kept an extremely low profile since leaving the band in 1970 and has been a virtual ghost during the past decade. But on February 25th at the London Palladium, he’s expected to emerge from seclusion to attend a tribute show in his honor organized by Mick Fleetwood. The drummer has assembled an incredible roster of talent to honor Green, including David Gilmour, Christine McVie, Steven Tyler, Bill Wyman, Billy Gibbons, John Mayall, and many others.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Fleetwood said that his motivation for putting together the show was rather simple. “I wanted people to know that I did not form this band — Peter Green did,” he said. “And I wanted to celebrate those early years of Fleetwood Mac, which started this massive ball that went down the road over the last 50 years.”

He also said that he’s kept in touch with Green. “He’s not the Peter that I knew, clearly,” Fleetwood said, alluding to the guitarist’s mental-health issues in the intervening years. “But he plays acoustic guitar. He loves painting, and fishing is his hobby. It’s no secret that he took a left turn and never came back, but he’s OK. He also has really little or no ego at all, which is unbelievable.”

The Peter that Fleetwood knew in the late Sixties was an incredibly gifted guitarist and songwriter who composed many of the band’s greatest early tunes, including “Black Magic Woman,” “Rattlesnake Shake,” and “Stop Messin’ Round.” But his most beautiful song might be “Man of the World,” which also happened to be one of the last pieces he wrote for the band before departing.

“It’s a very prophetic song,” said Fleetwood. “When he made those songs, we had no idea that he was suffering internally as much as he was. But if you listen to the words, it’s crucifyingly obvious what was going on. But a beautiful song. A poignant song.”

Here’s video of Fleetwood Mac playing “Man of the World” on German television in the summer of 1969. The song fell out of their repertoire when Green left the band the following year, but they revived it last year with Neil Finn handling the vocals.

As of now, there are no plans for Green to perform at the tribute show next month. But if he makes a last-minute decision to get onstage and sing “Man of the World,” it’ll truly be one of the great moments in Fleetwood Mac history. For now, fans should just be happy that he’s managed to survive through all his hardships and that he’ll be able to sit in the audience and enjoy the beautiful music he created all those years ago.

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