Bob Welch (1945-2012): An Appreciation

Share this:

Fleetwood Mac have been through a lot of ups and downs in their decades-long history, but have hit a streak of bad luck lately: original bassist Bob Brunning passed away last October and early ’70s lineup guitarist Bob Weston died at the beginning of this year. Today brings us news of its most notable loss yet: former guitarist, singer and songwriter Bob Welch.

Dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Nashville, Welch was 66 and said to be in declining health. Fleetwood Mac wasn’t more than a moderately successful band during his 1971-74 tenure with the band, but he helped to push the band in a more melodic direction away from its blues roots. That paved the way for the superstardom that came shortly after he left and Buckingham/Nicks came on board. He filled a songwriting void left by Peter Green’s departure, contributing some tunes that should have been hits, such as “Hypnotized.”

Everyone knows Bob Welch best from his two hits spun off the 1977 solo debut French Kiss album, “Ebony Eyes” and “Sentimental Lady,” the latter originally recorded with the Mac in 1972. His subsequent records got little notice and eventually he stopped making them altogether, but I always felt that the French Kiss followup The Other One (1979) was an overlooked gem.

Less disco-oriented, more varied and more tightly produced, One was a better portrait of Welch’s diversity, pivoting from gritty rock (“Rebel Rouser”) and fusion-funk (“OneOnOne”) to cool Hall & Oates-styled soul (“Don’t Let Me Fall”) and his trademark mysticism (a remake of Fleetwood Mac’s “Future Games”).

Occasionally I wonder how much bigger and better Fleetwood Mac would have been had Bob Welch stayed on with them when Buckingham and Nicks joined. As good as they were already, it’s scary to think of that possibility; perhaps Welch might have gotten his due as a very talented musician. Maybe with his tragic passing today, he’ll finally get it.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

Latest posts by S. Victor Aaron (see all)

Share this:
Close