Mick Green

British rock 'n' roll guitarist

Born: 22 February, 1944, in Matlock, Derbyshire.

Died: 11 January, 2010, in Ilford, Essex, aged 65.

DURING the early years of British rock 'n' roll few guitarists could create such a sonic sensation as Mick Green. His ability to play rhythm and lead guitar simultaneously, rare back in the early 1960s, influenced a generation of guitar heroes, and his talent and style continued to attract new and young fans well in to the 2000s.

His reputation was wide-reaching, with several members of the Who citing the Pirates, Green in particular, as helping shape their sound. The band's cover of Piano Red's Doctor Feelgood, with Green's crackling fret work, also inspired the Canvey Island band of that name. Although it was recognised by few outside the media or the music industry, Green had at least as much influence as more lauded rock figures Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page.

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Born in Derbyshire in 1944, Green grew up in Wimbledon, south-west London, in the same block of flats as Johnny Spence and Frank Farley. The three would eventually form a band that would play together for almost 50 years. Green met Farley in rather maverick circumstances; he fell out of a tree and landed on him. His first meeting with Spence was more conventional – Green turned up at Spence's door holding a guitar and said: "I hear you know the opening bit to Cumberland Gap. Can you teach me?" The result was one of the most original guitarists Britain has ever produced.

The trio formed the Wayfaring Strangers in 1956, a skiffle band. Entering a competition at the Tottenham Royal Ballroom, the youngsters came second to a band called the Quarrymen, who later achieved success as the Beatles.

Green's first steady gig, however, was as a member of the Red Caps, backing group for Cuddly Dudley. That band also included Johnny Patto, Johnny Spence and Frank Farley, all of whom defected to become the Pirates, the backing band for pre Beatle-era rocker Johnny Kidd. In 1962 Green replaced Joe Moretti as lead guitar player for the Pirates. Kidd and the Pirates had scored a big hit two years previously with the rock classic Shakin' All Over, but it was Green's presence that lent the band a harder, grittier edge and genuine musical weight. Although Moretti was the guitarist on the recorded version of Shakin, it was Green who became synonymous with the song.

Green and Farley (the Pirates' drummer) then joined Billy Kramer's backing group, the Dakotas, in 1964, though they maintained the rights to the Pirates name. In 1966, Kidd, who had carried on touring as the New Pirates, died in a car accident, and in the early 1970s Green, Farley and Spence resumed touring as the Pirates, and continued to tour until 2005, when Farley was forced to quit due to ill health.

It was the 1970s that cemented Green's reputation, his self-assured style now the main attraction in Kidd's absence. The band were successful, releasing three albums for Warner Bros in Britain, and Green's blistering R&B was one of the highlights of the three-week Front Row Festival at the Hope and Anchor pub, north London, in 1977.

Green was prolific in his playing and writing, contributing to two Dr Feelgood studio albums (Down by the Jetty and Malpractice) and one live album (Stupidity), co-writing tracks for all three. His playing was also a major influence on Feelgoods' guitarist Wilko Johnson. He was also a member of the band Shanghai, who produced two albums in the 1970s and supported Status Quo on their Blue for You tour.

His later credits in the 1980s and 90s include collaborations with global megastars. His guitar can be heard on the Paul McCartney album Run Devil Run, released in 1999 (Green also played on stage with McCartney on his return to the Cavern Club to promote the album). He joined forces with Bryan Ferry on the album Frantic in 2002, and appeared with Van Morrison at Glastonbury in 2005.

Green's association with Morrison continued, and in 2008 he played on five tracks for the Irish artist's album Keep It Simple. He also toured with the Van Morrison Band for much of 2008.

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Always keen to share his talent and knowledge, he taught guitar in his spare time, privately and at local schools.

Outside of playing guitar – he rarely practised – Green was a keen golfer, occasionally taking to the fairways with Spence.

As with many who follow the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, Green was not always in the best of health, and it was in 1993 that he received a warning shot, when he suffered a heart attack onstage while performing with Bryan Ferry in New Zealand.

He is survived by his wife Karen, and two sons, Brad and Lloyd. A grandson was born just a day before his death.