Jun 9, 2012

Remembering One Time Fleetwood Mac Member & Solo Artist: Bob Welch (1945-2012)

Today centerfieldmaz would like to give mention to the life of musician Bob Welch who passed on this week. In the fall of 1977 my favorite song was Bob Welch's Ebony Eyes. At the time I was eleven years old and music became a big part of my life. In New York WPLJ radio was the top rock station & Ebony Eyes was in constant rotation. Those were the hey days of Creem magazine where Welch would often get featured along with his old group Fleetwood Mac. It was then that a pre teen centerfieldmaz fell in love with Stevie Nicks!  I even learned to draw a caricature of Welch, as I was a young aspiring artist in those days too. He was easy to draw with his glasses, lopsided hat & long hair. My Stevie Nicks caricatures didn't turn out so well. I drove my little brother crazy playing Ebony Eyes on the cassette player & drawing those pictures with colored pencils.

Bob Welch was born on August 31st in Los Angeles, California. He was raised in Beverly Hills, the son of Hollywood Producer/ Screenwriter Robert Welch. Robert Welch had produced movies for the likes of Bob Hope & Bing Crosby, as well as the Thin Man television series (1958-1959).

His mother Templeton Fox; was a singer in both television as well as movies in the sixties & seventies. Bob Welch played clarinet & guitar, eventually forming a local L.A. band but they went nowhere. He dropped out of U.C.L.A & moved to Paris, France where he became friends with future CBS Newsman Ed Bradley.

In 1971 he was invited to try out for Fleetwood Mac, through the referral of a friend. Fleetwood Mac led by Peter Green at the time, got its name from members Mick Fleetwood & John McVie. He got the gig without actually auditioning or ever playing his guitar. At the time the band had just brought in singer/keyboardist Christine McVie who was married to bassist John McVie. The band would record four albums with Welch, none of which became big hits: "Future Games", "Bare Trees" "Penguin" and "Mystery to Me". "Bare Trees" contained the Welch song "Sentimental Lady" which would become a big hit for him as a solo artist.

Fleetwood Mac went through many lineup changes as well as legal issues in the next couple of years. Eventually they became a quartet of Mick Fleetwood, The McVie's & Welch recording the album "Heroes Are Hard To Find" which became a minor hit in the US reaching #34 on the album charts. The band went on tour but it took its toll on Welch. He felt estranged from the rest of the band & his marriage was also falling apart.



Although he did help develop a new sound in the band he would not be there to enjoy the next stage of their career. In December 1974 he left Fleetwood Mac, getting replaced by Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks. The rest is Rock & Roll history. Mick Fleetwood continued to manage Welch's solo career.

In September 1977 with Fleetwood Mac enjoying the super success of its masterpiece album; "Rumors", Welch also released a hit album. His album "French Kiss" hit #12 on the US charts & spawned off three hit singles. The revamped "Sentimental Lady" became a top ten hit. The pop rock "Ebony Eyes" was a staple on rock radio & one of the biggest rock tunes of the year. Also the song "Hot Love,Cold World" was also a minor hit.

His follow up album "Three Hearts" was certified Gold in 1979, with featured the hit "Precious Love".

After that, he released four more albums but his popularity declined. He developed a drug addiction and stopped performing. In 1985 he married his second wife Wendy & cleaned up his heroine addictions. After that he primarily became a song writer living in Memphis Tennessee.

In the nineties he got into a legal battle with the band over royalties & was not invited to thier Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. In 2012 he had spinal surgery & it was reported he would never fully be recovered.

On June 7th, 2012 Bob Welch took his own life with a self inflicted gunshot to his chest. A suicide note he left behind said, he did not want his wife to have to care of him as an invalid. He was 66 years old.

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