Peter Green and Gary Moore’s “Greeny” 1959 Les Paul Standard
Peter Green with the 1959 Les Paul Standard
This next guitar, a 1959 Les Paul Standard, is quite simply one of the most iconic and revered electric guitars in history by guitarists and guitar enthusiasts.
The Les Paul, which most people affectionately refer to as “Greeny,” was first owned by Fleetwood Mac cofounder Peter Green. Green later sold it to Gary Moore when Moore was still only a teenager, before Moore went on to become a blues/rock guitar legend.
Peter Green purchased the guitar second-hand for about the equivalent of $300. Green would use the Les Paul during his time with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers after he replaced Eric Clapton as their guitarist. Upon Green joining, the Bluesbreakers consisted of John Mayall, Peter Green, John McVie on bass and Aynsley Dunbar on drums.
After spending some time with the band, Green approached Mayall and asked if a drummer who he had previously been in a few bands with, Mick Fleetwood, could replace Aynsley Dunbar on drums.
Mayall agreed, and Fleetwood became the new drummer of the Bluesbreakers.
As a gift, John Mayall gave Peter Green some free studio time. Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood used that time to record five songs in total, the fifth being an instrumental that Green named after his rhythm section – “Fleetwood Mac.”
Not long after the group cut the Bluesbreakers album A Hard Road, Green approached Mick Fleetwood about breaking off and forming their own band. They wanted John McVie to join them as their bassist, and Green even named the new band “Fleetwood Mac” to try to entice him to join, but McVie opted to remain with the Bluesbreakers for the steadier income it provided. However, within a few weeks after the first Fleetwood Mac show, McVie changed his mind and decided to join the band.
Upon the formation of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green would use his 1959 “Greeny” Les Paul to write and record some of the bands biggest songs, including “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown),” “Albatross,” “Black Magic Woman” and “Oh Well.”
Fleetwood Mac was originally a blues band when they were founded, but after a few years the bands direction started going in a much more pop-oriented direction.
Peter Green ran his course with the band and left in 1970. Shortly before he left, however, he loaned his ’59 Les Paul to a protege of his – a teenaged Irish guitar virtuoso by the name of Gary Moore.
Green urged Moore to eventually buy the guitar so that it “would have a good home,” and Moore agreed, buying the guitar for around what Green paid for it – about $300.
Gary Moore with the same 1959 Les Paul
Moore would go on to use the Les Paul for about the next twenty-five years, spanning most of his career.
He used “Greeny” on a massive amount of his work, from his debut solo album, to his short stint in 1974 with Thin Lizzy and his time with Colosseum II from 1975-78. Moore also used the guitar on his biggest hit, “Parisienne Walkways,” from his 1978 album Back On The Streets.
Here’s a video of Gary Moore playing Greeny live on the song “Still Got The Blues” –
Due to financial issues, Moore was forced to sell Greeny in 2006 for what was estimated to be between $750,000 and $1.2 million depending on what report you read.
It was bought by Phil Winfield and the company Maverick Music, and the guitar was reportedly at one point listed on the company’s website for sale for $2 million.
After belonging to one or more private collectors, the famous 1959 Les Paul Standard was bought by Metallica’s guitarist Kirk Hammett in 2014 from the company Richard Henry Guitars.
Hammett won’t disclose how much he paid, but the reports are that the Peter Green/Gary Moore 1959 Les Paul “Greeny” ran him for around a cool $2 million.
Here’s an interview Hammett did where he discusses the turn of events behind how he became the proud owner of such an iconic and history-filled guitar:
When asked on Twitter why he bought it, Hammett responded that “the best tribute is that it’s being played again instead of being neglected by people who only bought it for the investment.”