Bob Welch "Ebony Eyes" (1978)
Is it just me or does it seem like the frequency with which we are losing artists has been rapidly increasing over the past year? It seems like every week word of some great musician who came to fame in the '60s, '70s, or '80s has passed on. The latest to add to that sad, long list is '70's rock artist Bob Welch, known for both his solo work and membership of Fleetwood Mac, who died yesterday at age 66. Unlike many of the other artists who have passed on recently due to natural causes, the singer/songwriter/guitarist whose career never quite reached its full potential, was the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. As one of my fellow WFMU DJs noted following this tragic news, Welch qualified as a "classic tortured shoulda-been left-behind '70s artist."
Welch recorded some timeless pure pop-rock perfection, including his hits "Hot Love, Cold World,” “Precious Love,” "Sentimental Lady" (originally recorded with Fleetwood Mac but then later reworked by Bob Welch), and 1978's "Ebony Eyes" (video above), which would be the biggest hit of his career. But despite all of the successes Welch enjoyed, he never really reached the level of appreciation he deserved. He was unfortunate in that he had split Fleetwood Mac before they became hugely popular and then, on top of this, his own solo career stagnated back in the '80s. The two post-Mac groups he formed, Paris and Avenue M, never really took off and, as accurately noted in today's LA Times, his "early contributions [to Fleetwood Mac] helped pave the way for the sound the band is celebrated for today." Welch rarely gets much credit for those contributions.
Add to this the fact that the artist had undergone serious spinal surgery a few months ago that he was told he would not fully recover from and, reportedly, did not wish to burden his wife with having to take care of someone who would never walk again. Of course, only his maker and those close to him (like his wife who found him early yesterday with suicide note in their Nashville home) will ever know what was really going on in his head, but it is always extra sad when someone goes out this way.
Music left behind by the artist include the 1981 album Bob Welch and several best-of collections including Bob Welch Greatest Hits and the career retrospective His Fleetwood Mac Years & Beyond Two. Rest in peace Bob Welch.
Bob Welch "Sentimental Lady"