Although overlooked by millions, Robert Lawrence Welch Jr had relatively a lengthy musical career. He came to relative prominence as a member of Fleetwood Mac in during the first half of the 1970s. In 2012, his life came to an end after he committed suicide. He was discovered with a gunshot wound to the chest.
Welch’s talent and invaluable contribution to a string of Fleetwood Mac discs released between the “wilderness years” of 1971-74 should not be ignored. While those albums are rarely seen as classics, in tunes like ‘Sentimental Lady’ and ‘Hypnotized’ he proved a great songwriter of adult pop, while other material like ‘Bermuda Triangle’ showcased a darker side to his work. Across five albums (none of which received at UK release in the 70s), Welch’s stamp on the Fleetwood Mac sound is pivotal, moving the band away from the blues and further towards the AM radio adult pop with which they would conquer the world. On his last work with the band, ‘Heroes Are Hard To Find’, Welch was the sole guitarist and chief songwriter, penning eight of the album’s eleven cuts.
After moving on from Fleetwood Mac in 1975, Welch headed a short-lived power trio named Paris, which saw him working alongside ex-Jethro Tull bassist Glen Cornick and ex-Nazz drummer Thom Mooney. Closer to hard rock than anything Welch committed to plastic previously, their quasi-angry arrangements were perhaps a knee-jerk to Welch’s time with the Mac; a pair of albums released in 1976 sold poorly.
Kicking off a solo career in 1977, Welch returned to familiar musical territory with ‘French Kiss’, a well-received collection of radio friendly tunes which owed a great deal to Welch’s time in Fleetwood Mac. The album yielded a couple of relatively successful singles in the title cut and a re-recorded ‘Sentimental Lady’ (the latter featuring Mick Fleetwood, Christine and John McVie). The album was a big hit in the US, reaching #12 on the Billboard Chart. While Welch never achieved such success again, his solo career continued, and between 1978 and 1983 he released another five studio albums. At this time Welch’s career was hampered by drug problems, but after getting clean he chose to work as a songwriter, only returning to recording in 1999. His first work after the hiatus was an experimental jazz release. Other releases included two volumes of re-recorded solo and Fleetwood Mac material.
Bob Welch was survived by his wife of twenty-seven years and leaves behind a legacy of work still awaiting discovery by many.