Fleetwood Mac founder's post-band days as Jewish charity volunteer

Peter Green, who died this week, served lunches at a Jewish Welfare Board home and also gave money to the charity


One day in the early 70s, Melvyn Carlowe, head of the Jewish Welfare Board (later Jewish Care) visited one of its homes for the elderly in Highbury.

“I saw this guy in the dining room serving lunches to the residents,” he recalled. “The typical volunteer at the time was a middle-class Jewish lady or a retired Jewish tailor. And he was a youngish man.”

When Mr Carlowe asked staff who he was, they told him he was one of Britain’s most acclaimed rock guitarists. Not long before, Peter Green had suddenly left Fleetwood Mac. 

“They told me he’d been there several times,” Mr Carlowe said. “He may have lived nearby and I think he re-identified with his Jewish faith. Maybe he had a relative there.” 

In a JC interview many years later, Green recalled that he had used LSD “to get me to a place where I wasn’t Jewish but where I wasn’t not Jewish either”. In 1969, when still with Fleetwood Mac, he was exploring messianic Christianity and penned a song, Closing My Eyes, about a revelation from God.

But as his volunteering showed, the man who was taunted as “Greenbum” during his East End childhood (he was born Peter Greenbaum) did not lose touch with his Jewishness.  

Melvyn Carlowe did encounter Green on a further occasion. “He was in our offices in Charlotte Street [in the West End]. Apparently he had just popped in to make a donation.” 

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