By an extraordinary coincidence, I recently found three stories of well-known British musicians paying tribute to some more obscure musicians within the same week. As I write this, in America, it’s the night before Thanksgiving, so I figure it’s somewhat fitting to tell the stories of musicians showing their gratitude to others whose names might not be as familiar.
Fleetwood Mac and friends celebrate the music of Peter Green.
You might not know about Peter Green, then again, you might remember this song (maybe from the second series premiere of Fargo):
Or maybe you remember hearing me geek out about the prospect of Fleetwood Mac reviving his music in the wake of Lindsey Buckingham leaving the band. At any rate, Peter Green was the original frontman for Fleetwood Mac, back when they were just a British blues band at the tail end of the British Blues Boom. And then he became an acid casualty, left the band in 1970, and kept making some small comebacks (including being, to the best of my knowledge, the only artist to have covered all 29 of Robert Johnson’s songs) as his former band hit almost superhuman heights of success.
And on 25 February 2020, Mick Fleetwood will perform a gig at the London Palladium paying tribute to his more or less retired comrade (hopefully, Peter’s doing all right; I haven’t heard much recent news about him, but you know what they say about no news), with a house bad consisting of Andy Fairweather-Low, Chritine McVie, and some others, with guests on the bill like ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), David Gilmour (who is not retired, even having divested himself of most of his guitars this summer), Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Johnny Lang, John Mayall, Zak Starkey, and Bill Wyman, with Glyn Johns being the producer keeping it all together. Surprisingly, Carlos Santana is not on the bill, especially since “Black Magic Woman.” one of Santana’s biggest breakthrough singles, was written by Peter Green.
Quoth Mick Fleetwood: “The concert is a celebration of those early blues days where we all began, and it’s important to recognize the profound impact Peter and the early Fleetwood Mac had on the world of music. Peter was my greatest mentor and it gives me such joy to pay tribute to his incredible talent. I am honoured to be sharing the stage with some of the many artists Peter has inspired over the years and who share my great respect for this remarkable musician. ‘Then Play On’…”
Well, it looks like the impetus for this was just 50 years from his leaving the band. Alas, the next one comes under sadder circumstances…
Musicians sign a guitar for the physical therapy of Jerry Donahue
Jerry Donahue is one of those names who’s familiar to guitarists, but not a lot of other people. You’ve probably heard some of his work, though:
(Yes, that’s his electric guitar playing over the Reid twins’ music)
While he is technically a Yank, he did play with Fairport Convention for a few years (and occasionally in the Cropredy festival), but that’s beside the point. The point is, on 29 July 2016, he had a severe stroke. He survived, but he’s lost the use of the right side of his body, and, yes, that includes his hand. He has trouble speaking and moving, so, to help pay for his physical therapy, 23 stars decided to get together, take one of his Vintage V58 signature guitars, sign it, and sell it to help pay for it all. You can see the guitar here. The musicians who signed it:
- Robert Plant
- Mark Knopfler
- Paul McCartney,
- Richard Digance
- Tony Iommi
- Ralph McTell
- Brian Wilson
- Jimmy Page
- Pete Townshend
- Steve Winwood
- John Paul Jones
- Dave Pegg
- Richard Thompson
- Joe Brown
- David Gilmour
- Andy Fairweather-Lowe
- Al Jardine
- Eric Clapton
- Jeff Beck
- Martin Barre
- Jeff Lynne
- Albert Lee
- Al Stewart
According to Dave Pegg, bassist for the Fairweather Convention, these artists all came together because “They recognise he’s one of the greatest guitarists in the world with a unique style, No one else could do the multiple string bends, which is why guitar legends like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page admire him so much.”
The guitar will be sold on December 11 in Wilshire and is expected to sell for £10-20,000. Given the pedigree of musicians who’ve signed it, I think it’s safe to say this is a lowballed estimate. And, finally, the most famous musician being paid tribute here, and he’s snuffed it.
Eric Clapton announces a tribute concert to Ginger Baker
It might be a stretch to call Ginger Baker obscure, but then again, once Cream and Blind Faith broke up, he didn’t really do much of note, apart from discovering Fela Kuti and proving himself to be… Kryten, help me out, will ya?
Yes, I seriously spent some time considering writing an obituary for him, but I ended up getting sidetracked by all the horror stories people had about him. And suddenly, the fact that Cream only lasted about two years made perfect sense: when two-thirds of your band hate each other’s guts (up to and including knife attacks), it’s only a matter of time before things self-destruct. Building a band on the power of hate can only last so long.
And now that Eric Clapton is the last surviving member of Cream, what with Ginger dying last month, and Jack Bruce popping off in 2014, he’s decided it’s only right to pay tribute to his fallen bandmate with a tribute concert at the Hammersmith Apollo on 17 February 2020. Tickets go on sale starting at 10 A.M. (BST) on Friday and can be bought here.
The set list is set to focus largely on Cream and Blind Faith’s music, since that’s where his legacy lies. Proceeds will go to Leonard Cheshire, a disabilities charity. Surprisingly, the full lineup of performers isn’t out in the open, although given that Andy Fairweather-Low has A) worked alongside Eric Clapton for most of his work since 1992, and B) he’s playing a part in the other two stories mentioned here, I’d be legitimately surprised if he wasn’t involved in this one, too.