Bob Welch of Fleetwood Mac was found dead of a gunshot wound to the chest in his Nashville home. His wife, Wendy Welch found his body just after noon on Thursday.
Welch was a key member of Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to 1974. He played guitar and wrote many of their songs during that time. He appeared on "Future Games" (71), "Bare Trees" (72), "Penguin" (73), "Mystery to me" (73) and "Heroes Are Hard To Find" (74). Some of their greatest songs from those albums were written by Bob Welch, including “Sentimental Lady” and “Hypnotized.”
It was the songs he wrote and those of Christine McVie that defined the sound of Fleetwood Mac in that period. They moved the group from its original British Blues sound to a more contemporary sound.
Welch left Fleetwood Mac shortly after Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined. His debut solo album, "French Kiss" had a couple of major hits on it. The biggest was a cover of “Sentimental Lady” that he had written for Fleetwood Mac’s Bare Trees album. The other hit was written for the album, “Ebony Eyes.”
In 1994 he sued his former band mates for back royalties. That resulted in him not being invited to Fleetwood Mac’s 1998 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Mick Fleetwood had remained close with Welch over the years. He was also his manager during his solo career. Fleetwood told Reuters that Welch's suicide was "incredibly out of character." He went on to say "He was a very, very profoundly intelligent human being and always in good humor, which is why this is so unbelievably shocking."
Police report that Welch left a suicide note for his wife. In the note he said he didn’t want to be a burden to her after spinal surgery three months earlier a friend of the musician told the Tennessean.
His father had become an invalid and he watched his mother care for him for years. He didn’t want Wendy to have to do the same for him. He reportedly said in the note “I’m not going to do this to you.”
Stevie Nicks released a statement, calling Welch's death "devastating. He was an amazing guitar player - he was funny, sweet - and he was smart - I'm so very sorry for his family and for the family of Fleetwood Mac - so, so sad."
Welch apparently thought he wouldn’t recover from the surgery and out of love, he wanted to spare his wife the burden that he felt his mother had. Anyone can understand that. He was obviously in a state of depression. How do you love someone so much that you don’t want to burden them and yet allow them to find your body after shooting yourself?
We have lost another great singer, songwriter and guitarist. There is a lot more to this one though. There is a lesson to be learned here and it’s about depression and suicide. When there are medical issues combined with depression the thought of taking matters into your own hands is a distinct possibility. Even to those who we think would never entertain that idea. Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks didn’t think Bob Welch would ever take his own life. His wife Wendy would have never left him alone if she thought he would. He was able to write a note and shoot himself so paralysis didn’t seem likely. The only reasonable explanation for Welch to think he wouldn’t recover from the surgery is depression.
Bob Welch is the second member of Fleetwood Mac to die this year. Bob Weston died in London from a hemorrhage in January. He was 64.