Mick Green - Archive
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
I'd forgotten I'd written this obituary - 11 January 2010 - for Mick Green.
He was bloody great.
For those of us who saw one of Mick Green's last performances, as a guest with the current line-up of The Animals in 2009, there was a rare, overwhelming swell of affection among the audience, but an unspoken sadness too.
The former guitar player with Johnny Kidd and The Pirates had been plagued with poor health in his later years after a heart attack in 2004, and it had clearly sapped his energy, though not his skill or his good humour.
Mick died on January 11, aged 65, after a career spanning five decades, which
Photo: Brian Rasic
saw him help write the opening chapters of British rock and roll, while playing with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, from 1962.
He also took the stage with Billy Fury, added muscle to Billy J Kramer's Dakotas and, when rock and roll's star waned, did a stint with Engelbert Humperdinck's backing band in Vegas.
That gig might have left a lesser musician relegated to the shadows for good, but Mick had made his mark on a generation of guitar players, who kept him close.
Best known for his role in The Pirates, which he joined in his teens, Mick wasn't the first axeman to play the alarming, slightly crazed guitar part on Shakin' All Over. Session-player Joe Moretti originated it, but Green got it down to a fine art - an angular, audacious, cheeky piece of modern art at that.
Mick's style became a cornerstone of British rock and roll, and those early Pirates gigs with Kidd's paint-blistering wail and his lavish theatrics - complete with cutlass, eye-patch and galleon - and with Green's simultaneous lead and rhythm playing, left their mark on Dave Gilmour, Wilko Johnson, Pete Townsend and Tony Hicks.
Of that later generation of performers Bryan Ferry, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney, who had fallen under the spell of Mick's biting Telecaster sound in pre-Beatles clubland as youngsters, called upon him in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s to add vintage fizz to their tours and discs, notably on McCartney's Run Devil Run, Ferry's Frantic and Dylanesque and on Van's Keep It Simple. With a style which was all flair and no unnecessary noodling, that title could have been Green's credo.