Ian Anderson On What Made Peter Green Better Than Eric Clapton

When it comes to guitar legends, names like Peter Green and Eric Clapton naturally come to mind. Ian Anderson, the lead vocalist and flautist of the iconic British rock band Jethro Tull, recently weighed in on this debate. During an appearance on Classic Album Review, he discussed his thoughts on the playing styles of these two guitar virtuosos.

A few months ago, in a conversation with Classic Rock, Anderson had named Green as his guitar hero, noting his profound influence during Fleetwood Mac’s early days. According to Ian, Green had an extraordinary ability to make the guitar sing like a human voice. He had praised Green’s tone, control, and adaptability, highlighting how he could enchant listeners with quality instead of quantity when it came to his playing.

In his recent interview, Anderson again shared his appreciation for Peter Green’s musicianship, expressing that he considered him to be the best of his generation. In Ian’s view, Green’s playing was more thoughtful and nuanced than Clapton’s, with a tonal quality and phrasing that felt natural and precise. This distinction, however, is not a knock on Clapton but rather an acknowledgment of the unique abilities that Green possessed.

Anderson also touched on Peter’s influence on the early direction of Fleetwood Mac. He noted that while the band experimented with more progressive sounds on tracks like ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ and ‘The Green Manalishi,’ Green’s blues background may have limited the extent to which they could fully venture into progressive rock. Anderson speculated that the other members of the band might have constrained Green’s musical vision, suggesting that they could have struggled to move in a more progressive direction.

Here is what Ian Anderson said about Peter Green:

“Peter Green, at that time, I think, he was the best of the bunch. I rated him more so than Eric Clapton just because Peter Green had a beautiful and thoughtful tonal quality to his playing, and his phrasing was in a very precise and felt very natural.

So, Peter was the best of the guys, I thought, and in the same way, he wouldn’t have been the right guitar player for Jethro Tull because he was too steeped in the blues and the early Fleetwood Mac’s attempts to move away a little bit with slightly more adventurous music like ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ or ‘The Green Manalishi’ or something or other with a tail or whatever it was.

I can’t remember the name. These things were more of a move to what became progressive rock, but Peter, I think, would have been constrained by the mentality of the other musicians he was working with, and I don’t think they ever could have got very far in that direction, given the other members of the band and then, of course, Peter Green fell by the wayside in a tragic way.”

Unfortunately, Green’s career took a tragic turn, and he eventually left the music scene. Despite this, his impact on the world of guitar playing remains undeniable, as evidenced by the praise from fellow musicians like Anderson.

In comparing Peter Green’s playing to Eric Clapton’s, Anderson’s comments remind us that guitar virtuosity can manifest in different ways. While Clapton’s skill is unquestionable, there is a unique beauty and depth to Green’s playing that resonates with listeners even today.