Associated Press this morning reports that musician Bob Welch (pictured far-right) has committed suicide in his Nashville home, dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 66.
Welch’s body was found by his wife, along with a suicide note, just after noon on Thursday 7th June. A police spokesperson said that Welch had reportedly been suffering from medical issues prior to his death, but would not disclose details.
Welch was a former member of Fleetwood Mac’s early line-up, a guitarist and vocalist for the group in their pre-Rumours heyday from 1971-1974. He replaced original guitarist Peter Green in the line-up, joining the group alongside John and Christine McVie, and helped transition the band from their strictly blues background into a more melodic rock direction.
Due to creative conflicts and internal struggles, Welch left the band in December 1974 and soon replaced by guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
Following his departure from the group he formed a power trio called Paris with ex-Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornick and former Nazz drummer Thom Mooney.
Paris released two albums in 1976 (Paris and Big Towne, 2061) before the band fell before the recording of their record a year later. Instead Welch turned what was to be Paris 3 into his solo debut, French Kiss, which featured appearances from Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, the latter of which would actually manage Welch’s solo career well into the ’80s.
French Kiss proved to be Welch’s most successful album, spawning three chart-placing hits “Ebony Eyes”, “Hot Love, Cold World” and a reworking of “Sentimental Lady” – a song that originally appeared on Fleetwood Mac’s 1972 album, Bare Trees – which was his biggest song, peaking at #8 on the Billboard charts.
Following two more solo releases in 1979 (Three Hearts and The Other One), the eighties saw Welch’s solo career slowing significantly. Despite 1980’s Man Overboard and his self-titled effort the following year, his career was beginning to fade.
In 1994, Welch attempted to sue his former band-mates along with their attorney, Michael Shapiro and Warner Bros. Records for a breach of contract related to underpayment of royalties. Citing that a contract from 1978 ensured an equal share of royalties from the sale of all Fleetwood Mac albums, the case was settled in 1996.
Two years later, Fleetwood Mac were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, without the inclusion of Welch. “Mick Fleetwood dedicated a whole chapter of his biography to my era of the band and credited me with ‘saving Fleetwood Mac.’,” he told Cleveland-based newspaper The Plain Dealer at the time.
“Now they want to write me out of the history of the group. It hurts… I guess they can do what they want. I could understand it if I had been a sideman for a year. But I was an integral part of that band … I put more of myself into that band than anything else I’ve ever done.”
On news of Welch’s death, Associated Press reports that Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks called the singer/guitarist’s death “devastating”, adding, “I had many great times with him after Lindsey and I joined Fleetwood Mac. He was an amazing guitar player – he was funny, sweet – and he was smart. I am so very sorry for his family and for the family of Fleetwood Mac – so, so, sad…”
Bruce Ravid, who is pictured above third from right and formerly of Capitol Records, said this morning that he was crushed by the news of Welch’s passing. “He was such a good guy and apparently had been suffering from health problems lately,” Ravid wrote this morning on Facebook.
“I last spoke with him a year ago and told myself after the call that he and I needed to speak more often. Lesson learned? Hope so because in these fast moving high tech days, we don’t spend enough old school time on the phone.”
If you or someone you know is depressed or having suicidal thoughts for immediate assistance call Lifeline – 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467. For more information about depression and anxiety visit www.beyondblue.org.au or call the info line on 1300 22 46 36.