Bob Welch, a one-time member of Fleetwood Mac who left just before the band's superstar breakthrough Fleetwood Mac album and later had solo success, was found dead in his Nashville home today (6/7). Nashville police reports indicate Welch died of a self-inflicted gunshot to his chest. A suicide note was found in the house.
In 1971 Welch, a native of Los Angeles, auditioned for a British blues band called Fleetwood Mac to replace Jeremy Spencer. His entrance into the band began Fleetwood Mac's transition from a blues band to a more "mainstream"-oriented rock act, although the band would never achieve superstardom during Welch's tenure.
Welch played on five Fleetwood Mac albums, beginning with 1971's Future Games and ending with Heroes are Hard to Find in 1974. When he left he was replaced by guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, who had as a condition of his acceptance into the band the inclusion of his girlfriend, Stevie Nicks. The rest is history.
Welch resurfaced in 1977 with a solo album, French Kiss. The album featured a new version of "Sentimental Lady," a song that originally appeared on Fleetwood Mac's Bare Trees album. The newly-recorded version featured most of Fleetwood Mac backing Welch. It became a top ten smash at a time when Fleetwood Mac was bogged down recording what would later become their 1979 double album Tusk. Welch would enjoy three more hits over the following 16 months before fading from popular view.
In 1998 Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Instead of inducting all the members (as they did with the Eagles), the hall of fame omitted Bob Welch from the band's ceremonies. Welch said in an interview with the Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer he felt the exclusion was due to his lawsuit against band drummer/co-founder Mick Fleetwood over decades-old issues and that Fleetwood had asked the hall of fame to exclude Welch.
Welch is the second former member of Fleetwood Mac to die this year. In January guitarist Bob Weston, who played on two albums (Mystery to Me and Penguin), died of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
Bob Welch was 66.