Bob Welch, one of the early members on the Fleetwood Mac roster, passed away Thursday in his home in Nashville of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He was 66.
Welch joined the band in 1971 after the departure of Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green, playing on five albums released over the following four years. He departed the band a few years before the album Rumours catapulted Fleetwood Mac to superstardom.
While his visible contribution to the band was on vocals and guitar, Welch’s primary contribution was as a songwriter. “Mostly his legacy would be his songwriting abilities that he brought to Fleetwood Mac, which will survive all of us,” Mick Fleetwood told Reuters. “If you look into our musical history, you’ll see a huge period that was completely ensconced in Bob’s work.”
After Fleetwood Mac, Bob Welch went on to have a successful solo career, perhaps best known for his platinum selling record French Kiss and hits like “Ebony Eyes” and “Sentimental Lady.” He had been living in Nashville since the late 1990’s, where he had continued to work on a songwriting career.
While members of Fleetwood Mac have expressed shock and devastation at the news of Welch’s death, his relationship with the band had been strained since the mid-1990s, when Welch sued the band for unpaid royalties—a move that resulted in his exclusion from the Fleetwood Mac’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Details surrounding Welch’s death are sketchy, but it is reported that he was found by his wife Wendy, and that he had left a note. It is also reported that Welch was suffering from undisclosed health problems.
RIP, Bob Welch. Thank you for the music you gave us. You will be missed.