Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bob Welch Passes On

Bob Welch, one time guitarist with Fleetwood Mac and a successful solo artist, passed on 7 June at the age of 65  or 66. The cause was a self inflicted gunshot wound.

Bob Welch was born in Los Angeles, California on 31 August, 1945 or 31 July 1946 (the date varied from source to source). His father was film and TV producer Robert L. Welch. Bob Welch learned clarinet as a child and as a young teen switched to playing guitar. After his graduation from high school he went to Paris with the intention of attending the University of Paris, although he spent little time on his studies. He later returned to Los Angeles where he studied French at the University of California-Los Angeles.

He dropped out of UCLA and joined the vocal group The Seven Souls as their guitarist in 1964. The Seven Souls would see little success, although their song "I Still Love You (B-side of the single "I'm No Stranger")" would become a Northern Soul standard. The Seven Souls broke up in 1969. Afterwards he moved to Paris where he founded the trio Head West. Head West would not prove to be a success.

It was in 1971 that Bob Welch was invited to join Fleetwood Mac, who had just lost founding members Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, both guitarists. Future Games, released in 1971, was the first Fleetwood Mac album on which Bob Welch played guitar. He wrote the album's title track and another song on the album, as well as co-wrote one other with the rest of the band. Bob Welch would remain with Fleetwood Mac for the albums Bare Trees and Mystery to Me, and Heroes Are Hard to Find. In 1974 Bob Welch left Fleetwood Mac.

Bob Welch returned to Paris and formed the band Paris with Glenn Cornick (formerly of Jethro Tull) and Thom Mooney (formerly of Nazz). Paris released two albums, Paris in 1976 and, after Hunt Sales replaced Thom Mooney, Big Town, 2061 later in 1976. Neither of Paris' albums were successful. Paris broke up before a planned third album could be recorded.

It was in 1977 that Bob Welch released his first solo album, French Kiss. The album would produce two hit songs, "Ebony Eyes" and "Sentimental Lady."   French Kiss itself went to #12 on the United States album chart. In 1979 he followed French Kiss up with Three Hearts, which produced the hit song "Precious Love."  Three Hearts peaked at #20 on the U.S. album charts. Unfortunately, Mr. Welch's following solo albums would decline in sales. The Other One (1979), Man Overboard (1980), Bob Welch (1981), and Eye Contact (1983) did not even reach the top 100 of the U.S. albums chart.

Unfortunately, as his career went into decline Bob Welch developed a heroin addiction. Once he had recovered from his addiction, Mr. Welch stopped performing and concentrated on his songwriting instead. It was in 1999 that he returned to recording, with the album Bob Welch Looks at Bop.  He would follow this with two albums that combined the songs he wrote for Fleetwood Mac with new material, His Fleetwood Mac Years and Beyond in 2003 and His Fleetwood Mac Years and Beyond 2 in 2006.

Bob Welch was a remarkable guitarist and songwriter who had a large part in changing the direction of Fleetwood Mac from blues to a more pop oriented song. It was largely because of Bob Welch and Christine McVie that Fleetwood Mac would evolve the sound for which it is best known. Although he left the band in 1974, it is likely that had he not joined Fleetwood Mac, they might never have recorded an album like Rumours. Although his solo success would be short lived, during his solo career he produced a good number of remarkable songs. While Bob Welch may have never achieved the phenomenal success that his former band Fleetwood Mac did, arguably he was responsible in part for that success and he contributed a number of great songs in his solo career.

1 comment:

AC said...

As a fan of Bob Welch I really enjoyed your blog post. Thanks for helping to introduce new fans to his wonderful music.

If you haven't already, support the Bob Welch legacy by adding your name to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame petition.