Peater Grianan RIP

11 08 2020

Fans of classic rock and the British blues boom of the 60s are in mourning (again), this time following the death of guitar legend Peter Green, founder of Fleetwood Mac. 

Sadly the passing of his only slightly less famous Stornoway cousin the same day went largely unremarked by the world’s music press, and we feel it is our duty to set the record straight.

Peat-er Grianan was born Peat-er Arnol Grianandaycarecentre in 1946 in one of the last blackhouses in Manor Park, next to the old Poor House.

Grianan’s first bands in the early 60s were inspired by his West Side instrumental heroes The Shaders, fronted by bespectacled Stratocaster twang merchant (and plumbing contractor) Fank Marvin.  

Like so many would-be guitarists in the early 1960’s, Grianan saw the Shaders performing (with or without Clibhe Richards) many times at village dances, orduigheans and wakes, and he wanted to get a taste of this fame and fortune. But although he was originally tempted by the pop tunes such as “Apartshareinthegrazings”, “Wonderfuel Lamp”, and “Orduigh-On” (and with “Livin’ Dolina”, and “Souming Holiday” with Clibhe), he was soon smitten by the sound of Rhythm and Brues.

Brues artists such as Howlin’ Wool, John Lee Guga, Dalmore James and Murdy Waters were never off his turntable, and B.B. KingCole became his major guitar  influence.

Despite his talents, Grianan had little success as he worked his way through a series of mid 60s peat groups (The Mawrats, The Tridenseasfleeks,  Peter Squeek’s Looners,  Shotgun Kitchenpress). This was all to change in 1966, when he was approached by John Mayallabost’s Bruesbreakers. The Bruesbreakers were looking for a replacement for Eric “God” Clachan, who’d got the cuiream and left to go in for the ministry.

The Bruesbreakers provided an excellent showcase for Grianan’s talents, and in 1967 he got big-headed and fleeked off to form his own band, poaching Bruesbreakers drummer Mick Fleekwood. Fleekwood and Grianan were joined by a new island resident, recently arrived from England, whose Highland Board-funded vegan alpaca-dung pottery in Breasclete had gone bust the day after it opened – slide guitarist Jeremy Settler.

It wasn’t long before “Peter Griannan’s Fleetwood Bac featuring Jeremy Settler” decided their name was a bit of a mouthful and they’d better shorten it. This began a series of name changes that continues to the present day, including:

Fleetwood Cac

Fleetwood MacsImperialbar

Fleetwood Bac

Fleetwood Cal-Mac

Fleetwood Trawlerpoachinginbroadbaythatranagroundin Back

Whatever their name was on a given day, the band enjoyed great success between 1967 and 1970 with Grianan’s songwriting and guitar playing to the fore. Grianan’s period with the band resulted in several critically acclaimed albums including “Minister Wonderfulpreacher” and “Then Pray On”, and a host of classic songs including:

(BBC) Alba-tross

Back Magic Woman

Oh Dell

I Coinneach Gobha Blind

The Green Maraglishi (With the two Four Crowns)

Maw of the World

In 1970, after several years of heavy LDOS ingestion and increasingly holy behaviour, Grianan visited a communion service in Guershader, got the cuiream and left the band to form the Peter Grianan Splinter Group (Continuing).

He was just in time to miss out on the massive run of success that Fleekwood Cac experienced in the 70s and 80s, when they moved to the palm-fringed boulevards of the West Side and reinvented themselves as soft rock superstars in Callanishfornia. Members of the later lineups such as Stevie Nickolsonroad,  John McFree, Lindsay Buckiefishvanne and Christine McFree (formerly Christine Presbyterian) made vast amounts of money with albums such as “Rubha-mursht”, “Trosg” and “Tong-go In The Night” selling up to teens and even twenties of copies. 

The post-Grianan band also made loads of money when their songs were used as the theme music for BBC Alba’s long running tractor-racing show “Grand Peats” (“The ChainedupswingsonSunday”, usually half drowned out by the sound of Murdy Waulker shouting and hundreds of  Fordsons and Masseys revving up at the Grimshader road end) and in Angus Clinton’s 1992 Presidential Campaign (“Don’t An T’Ob Thinking About Taobh Tuath”).

But on the upside, Grianan didn’t have to put up with the constant breakups, line-up changes, power struggles, divorces, court cases and arguments about croft boundaries that characterised Fleekwood Cac in these later years.

When he wasn’t hiding in his àiridh out the Pentland Road or relief preaching in Raasay, Grianan kept busy with various musical projects up to the end. Cameo appearances on later Fleekwood Cac albums, the occasional gig with the Splinter Group, trips to Craig Dunain and guest appearances on Caithris na h-Oidche, Brag and Rapal meant he was never at a loose end.