Peter Green and members of Fleetwood Mac give their accounts of the infamous LSD party at the Highfisch-Kommune in Munich. Band manager Clifford Davis claims that this was the night that Peter Green and Danny Kirwan became ‘seriously mentally ill’. Peter Green says, ‘I had a good play there, it was great.’
This incident is the genesis for Ada Wilson’s novel Red Army Faction Blues, which investigates just what Peter Green walked into that night.
Red Army Faction Blues Website
A review of Red Army Faction Blues featured in Vol XXXII of The Review of Contemporary Fiction.
‘A coalition government. A widely mistrusted ruling elite. Riots in the streets and heavy-handed police tactics. Welcome to West Berlin, 1967.’ From the jacket copy onward, Ada Wilson’s Red Army Faction Blues makes its contemporary relevance known. The novel follows a former West German undercover police officer tracking down blues guitarist Peter Green, seeking a resolution to his infiltration and proceeding defection into the radical Berlin underground of the late 1960s. The narrative moves between memories of Berlin and 1989 Thatcherite Britain, where the main character watches the fall of the Berlin Wall; these events making palpable a set of ideological traumas not unrecognizable to the reader of 2012. As a work of historical fiction, Wilson’s prose is artfully light of touch where exposition is concerned. Concise summaries of ideas—from Situationism to the writings of Marcuse—fit naturally into the dialogue of his young revolutionary characters, informing the novitiate reader whilst remaining perfectly unobtrusive to the informed. By utilizing the spy genre, the novel captures a polyphony of voices, offering a compelling picture of a postwar generational divide awash with the specters of the past; the ‘old Nazis’ in charge, the US and British ‘victors’ imposing their culture, and behind the Wall all the poverty and violence of the East. Central to the novel’s impact is the fate of the ‘May ’68’ generation—their most commercially acceptable ideas recuperated into late capitalism, their revolutionary ideals severed by postmodern critical distance. This distance ironically extends to the narrative itself, as the furtive narrator threatens to strip its historically relevant content of the capacity to produce political insight. However, as a novel that is willing to both engage with radical politics and explore postmodern literary form, Red Army Faction Blues is a highly commendable work, audaciously conceived and well executed.
Red Army Faction Blues Website
Ada Wilson traces the deeds of secret service informer and agent provocateur Peter Urbach, a historic figure of the Sixties, and Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green’s unusual decision to retreat from his music career. Urbach infiltrated the radical communes in Berlin. The communards, mostly of bourgeois background, saw in him a rare species of the proletariat who helped them to repair things in their dwellings. Additionally Urbach provided them with Molotov cocktails, pistols, and fire bombs. One of those fire bombs found its way into the Jewish Center of Berlin, however without exploding.
After the arrest of Horst Mahler, the founder of the Red Army Faction, Germany’s infamous guerilla group, Urbach had to make a statement in court, finally revealing his true identity as a secret service agent. After his court appearance he feared for his life and his employer, the secret service, sent him into retirement, secretly to California where he died 30 years later.
Peter Green visited the most famous communards, Rainer Langhans and super model Uschi Obermaier, in Munich where the two were in the process of creating a pop company, the Highfish Commune. It is said that Green went on an LSD trip while with them which triggered his retreat from Fleetwood Mac and from the music business altogether.
Wilson lets the reader see the 68 radicals through the eyes of the secret service informer. Urbach, however, was not only effective in observing the left-wing scene in Berlin and pushing them into violent acts, but he was also somehow impressed by the lifestyle of his targets. He developed a crush on Uschi Obermaier and he learned to like the music he heard in the communes, in particular he became obsessed with Peter Green. He even found a way to get an interview with Green in order to find out why Green had disappeared in obscurity…
This review by Guenter Langer of Red Army Faction Blues was posted on Amazon.com
Review of Red Army Faction Blues in Publishers Weekly.
British author Wilson (Very Acme) brings the tumult of 1967 West Berlin vividly to life in this intriguing period thriller. The West German Protection of the Constitution Office assigns operative Peter Urbach to infiltrate the radical student socialist group, SDS, which has been protesting American involvement in Vietnam. To combat the disorder in the streets, the city’s leaders are contemplating reintroducing the Emergency Laws, last imposed under the Nazis in 1933, which would curtail freedom of movement and privacy of communication. Wilson sensitively explores Urbach’s ambivalence as he doesn’t hesitate to betray his new comrades even as he shares their vision of inventing “a new and original world in which imagination would seize power.” The full implications of Urbach’s actions and the role of Fleetwood Mac member Peter Green play out in sequences set in 1989. Resonances with the Occupy Wall Street movement make this novel’s themes timely.
Trailer #2 for Ada Wilson’s novel Red Army Faction Blues. Peter Green’s journey to Munich…