Bob Welch, a guitarist who played with Fleetwood Mac before launching a solo career, shot himself to death, Nashville, Tenn., police said Thursday. He was 66.
Welch's wife found his body with a gunshot wound in the chest in their Nashville home around 12:15 p.m. (1:15 EDT), police spokesman Don Aaron told CNN.
All indications are that it was a suicide, Aaron said. A suicide note was found, he said.
Welch was born on Aug. 31, 1945 in Los Angeles to movie producer father Robert L. Welch and actress mother Templeton Fox, according to Reuters. He moved to Paris to study French at the Sorbonne, then returned to Los Angeles in the early 1970s.
An obit by MTV noted that the Los Angeles-born guitarist joined Fleetwood Mac in 1971, when the band was beginning to evolve from its beginnings as a hard-edged British blues combo into a pop/rock act. Welch played guitar and contributed vocals on five Fleetwood Mac albums, Future Games, Bare Trees, Penguin, Mystery to Me and Heroes Are Hard to Find, the band's first to crack the U.S. top 40. He wrote two of the band's early hits, Sentimental Lady and Hypnotized.
Welch left the band after Heroes, an opening that paved the way for Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to join, which re-energized the group and launched it to superstardom in the mid-'70s.
After leaving the band in 1974, Welch later formed the British rock group Paris in 1976 and found success as a solo artist. His 1977 album, French Kiss, reached platinum status and spawned three hit singles: Ebony Eyes, Hot Love, Cold World and a re-recording of Sentimental Lady, on which Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham provided backing vocals.
Welch fell out with his former band mates after suing the group in 1994 for unpaid royalties, and was not inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Fleetwood Mac in 1998. He said in 2003 that he felt that the legal issues, plus the fact that he was estranged from Mick Fleetwood at the time, led to the snub, ABC reported.
It basically comes down to the fact that they don't like me anymore, he told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland at the time. I guess they can do what they want. I could understand it if I had been a sideman for a year. But I was an integral part of that band ... I put more of myself into that band than anything else I've ever done.
Nicks told The Associated Press that Welch's death hit her hard.
The death of Bob Welch is devastating ... I had many great times with him after Lindsey and I joined Fleetwood Mac. He was an amazing guitar player - he was funny, sweet - and he was smart. I am so very sorry for his family and for the family of Fleetwood Mac - so, so sad ...
Fleetwood, one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac and Welch's manager during his solo career, had remained in close contact with his former band mate over the years and told Reuters that Welch's suicide was incredibly out of character.
He was a very, very profoundly intelligent human being and always in good humor, which is why this is so unbelievably shocking, he said.
He was a huge part of our history which sometimes gets forgotten ... mostly his legacy would be his songwriting abilities that he brought to Fleetwood Mac, which will survive all of us, Fleetwood said.
If you look into our musical history, you'll see a huge period that was completely ensconced in Bob's work.
As a songwriter, Welch also had his songs recorded by Kenny Rogers, Sammy Hagar, the Pointer Sisters and others.
In an interview with The Nashville Tennessean in 2003, Welch said, I just wanted to play guitar in a good band. I wanted to make the music I love. I wanted to travel the world and have adventures.
Welch also said music is disposable now. It doesn't have the emotional impact anymore. That's sad.
He had lived in Nashville since the 1990s.
Bart Herbison, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association, quoted his wife Wendy as saying Welch had spinal surgery three months ago and doctors told him he would not get better, and he did not want her to have to care for an invalid.
The couple had no children. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.