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Bob Welch dies: Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist, 'Ebony Eyes' singer

June 7, 2012 |  3:14 pm

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Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist and singer Bob Welch has been found dead in Nashville of an apparent suicide, according to the Nashville Police Department. The musician, who worked with the band in the early 1970s and later had hit solo songs such as "Ebony Eyes," was 66 years old.

Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said in a statement, "The police department responded to his address at 12:18 p.m., where Mr. Welch was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest." Aaron added that Welch's wife indicated that he had been suffering with health issues. A suicide note was found in the home.

Welch was a member of Fleetwood Mac as the band was transitioning away from being a British blues rock band and into the 1970s powerhouse that it became. As a singer and guitarist, Welch was lesser known than the pair who replaced him -- lead vocalist Stevie Nicks and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham -- but his work with fellow band mates including Mick Fleetwood and John and Christie McVie prior to Nicks' arrival on albums "Future Games," "Bare Trees" and "Heroes are Hard to Find," among others, set the tone for what was to come.

Welch left the band amid the chaos of the McVie divorce, just prior to mainstream success with the 1975 album "Fleetwood Mac" and then "Rumors," Fleetwood Mac's acclaimed 1977 hit album. The singer went solo, and scored a massive hit with "Ebony Eyes" in 1977. The album from which it was culled, "French Kiss," featured a number of former Fleetwood Mac members, as well as a rendition of "Sentimental Lady," a song originally recorded with Mac but reworked by Welch.

Welch was born in Los Angeles in 1945, the son of successful Hollywood movie producer Robert Welch, best known for his work with Bob Hope on a series of "Paleface" films. A full obituary will appear in the L.A. Times.

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-- Randall Roberts Twitter: @liledit

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