Former Fleetwood Mac singer/guitarist Bob Welch was found dead of an apparent suicide in his Nashville home today at age 66. Published reports indicate he left behind a suicide note and died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Many casual fans won't know about the Welch chapter of the band's history and even some of the more devoted might have missed his era, following the blues-soaked Peter Green early years and the commercial mega success of the Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks period that followed.
I didn't know about Welch's tenure until I was in college working at a classic rock radio station. I came in a little early, before my shift, when a song called "Hypnotized" came on. It felt Lindsey Buckingham-esque but the voice wasn't quite right so I had to ask the DJ who was closing his shift about it. Fortunately he knew all about Welch and I made a point of sneaking "Hypnotized" into the rotation any chance I got because each time I listened to it, that's how I felt. The breezy vocals and lyrical guitar leads over Mick Fleetwood's syncopated rhythms. I love the different eras and sounds of the band and wouldn't name the Welch era as my favorite but "Hypnotized" might be my favorite song in their estimable catalog.
Welch recorded five albums with the band in the 1970s before embarking on a solo career that brought him early success he was unable to sustain. He got into a legal dispute with the band (and more specifically its management) over royalties he felt he was due and when Fleetwood Mac went into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he was excluded from participation. Despite that acrimony, both Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks issued statements today paying tribute to Welch's gift and offering condolences to his family and fans around the world.
It's been a heartbreaking and devastating year in the world of music as we've mourned the loss of legendary and illustrious talents whose gifts brought so much to so many: Etta James, Whitney Houston, Adam Yauch, Levon Helm, Davy Jones, Dick Clark, Duck Dunn, Robin Gibb, and Donna Summer… the list goes on and we're only in June. It's with a heavy heart we add Bob Welch to that list.
It's a shame success and notoriety eluded Welch. I don't own all five of the albums he recorded with Mac or all his solo albums but I have some of it and enjoy listening to what I have and always mean to add a little more to it (that list of albums I one day want to get to is never ending). I'm so very glad I discovered him when I did and the hours I've spent listening to him. Go download "Hypnotized" if you've never heard him. I think you'll feel the same way.