Remembering Bob Welch: Fleetwood Mac's Secret Weapon

This past Thursday, former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch committed suicide in his home outside Nashville at age 66. It was a tragic loss that stunned the Fleetwood Mac family, both past and present.

Mac's Stevie Nicks called Welch's death "devastating" in London's The Daily Telegraph: "I had many great times with him after Lindsey and I joined Fleetwood Mac," she said. "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."

Welch was perhaps the unsung hero of one of the greatest rock bands of all time, as well as one of the most pivotal figures in the band's 45 years of existence. Without him, Fleetwood Mac would be extremely different: They would still be a British blues band and Mick Fleetwood and John McVie have never come to the U.S. and met two Californians, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and his then-girlfriend, vocalist Nicks, that would essentially usher in the band's most successful era.

Stylistically speaking, Welch was no doubt, the one who laid the blueprint for Fleetwood Mac as we know it today. During his time in the band, Fleetwood Mac took on a more AOR-friendly format that proved successful: "Hypnotized," from 1973's Mystery To Me, garnered FM radio play. The album itself went gold in 1976.

bobwelch june 11.jpg
Welch's 1979 solo album Three Hearts
Though Welch quit Fleetwood Mac in 1974, he stayed in contact with members of the band including Buckingham, his replacement, and Nicks. He would frequently bring in his former bandmates -- Buckingham, Nicks, Fleetwood, keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie -- to record with him on his solo albums.

However, his relationship with the rest of Fleetwood Mac soured when Welch filed suit against the band, their former attorney and Warner Bros Records for unpaid royalties. Though a settlement had been reached in 1996, Welch was also hurt about his omission from the band's 1998 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Other ex-members such as Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer, as well then-current members Nicks, Buckingham, Fleetwood and both John and Christine McVie were all included.)

If anything, Welch's legacy that he left with Fleetwood Mac was that he paved the way for the Fleetwood Mac's runaway late-'70s success by holding the then-struggling band from England together. But above all, he was a great guitar player in his own right, and for that, Mr. Ebony Eyes will be greatly missed.


Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
7 comments
Ert
Ert

Mystery To Me, Bare Trees, Future Games....3 of the best pop albums from this group, all with Welch as the primary driving force...Christine McVie loved working with him...these albums are pivotal to my youth...while I liked the Buckingham-Nicks years, the Welch years are and will always be dearest to me...any younger connoisseurs of pop history would be well served to check out these albums...they were well-played by the college crowd in their day (mine), and for good reason...I wish he had hung around, with medical progress these days, he might have eventually found a way to continue and still enjoy life, but only he knew his true situation at the time

Larry
Larry

Night Watch from the Penguin album. That's a powerfully spooky Welch track. It used to get played on late night FM radio.

Ned86
Ned86

Bob Welch was a great musician.... his music was among the best and least appreciated of the 70's .  He will be sorely missed by this fan!   Ned Leuchtner

Christinalynn
Christinalynn

oh tell me about it! I just got a copy of "Mystery to me" and I like it!

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Fleetwood Mac, even in the Peter Green days, was a snake pit of ego, lust, acid-insanity and greed. But Good Lord the wonderful music that was a result - from Green to the 'pop' group. 

Greg Gamble
Greg Gamble

Yes, albums such as Bare Trees, Mystery to Me and Heroes are hard to find were little gems during the Mac's 'lost era'. Penguin had some good tracks although more uneven.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

 Same band, yet totally different - you have to listen (or find on YouTube) Peter Green with Fleetwood Mac.  Shows why people said, for a brief few years, that Green > Clapton.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...