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R.I.P. Bob Welch, Guitarist for Fleetwood Mac

Guitarist and singer Robert “Bob” Welch, 66, of Nashville, Tennessee, passed away yesterday due to apparent self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the chest.

Welch was born in Los Angeles, California on July 31, 1946 to movie producer Robert L. Welch and actress Templeton Fox. After some time studying French at U.C.L.A., Welch joined Fleetwood Mac in 1971 as a 24-year-old living in Paris, just as the group was making the transition away from being a British blues rock band and into the 1970s commercial powerhouse that it became. His work on pre-Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham albums such as Future Games, Bare Trees, and Heroes Are Hard To Find set the tone for the success the band was about to reach.

After Welch’s stint with Fleetwood Mac ended, he started a rock band, Paris, with Glenn Cornick and Thom Mooney. The band released two albums, a self-titled and Big Towne 2061, before splitting in 1977. Welch found himself in financial trouble because Paris’s releases sold under expectations until the members of Fleetwood Mac stepped in and reinvigorated his solo career. In 1977, Welch released his first solo album, French Kiss, which gained mainstream success, selling one million copies largely because of hit singles, “Sentimental Lady”, “Ebony Eyes” and “Hot Love, Cold World”. Welch followed French Kiss with Three Hearts, a rock/disco album that was certified gold and spawned the top 20 hit “precious Love”, and “Church”. Welch continued to record and release solo albums, albeit less successful, into the early ‘80s, when he decided to write songs for other artists. Welch then recorded an experimental jazz album, Bob Welch Looks At Bob, and released some Fleetwood Mac/solo songs on two compilation albums, His Fleetwood Mac Years And Beyond and His Fleetwood Mac Years And Beyond 2.

In 1998, every past and present member of Fleetwood Mac were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame except Welch, which caused a lot of controversy because of the vital role he played in the development of the band; he later reconciled with the members of Fleetwood Mac. He had spinal surgery three months ago and was not given much hope to fully recover. Welch is survived by his wife since 1985, Wendy, along with many fans and musicians he encountered over the years.

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