2012's Suicide Watch

Seems that 2012 has turned into the year of the suicide.

It's claimed the lives of former athletes, celebrities and even children this year---and at a rate that feels higher than normal.

The latest victim is Bob Welch, former guitarist, singer and one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest yesterday.

Welch was 65 and apparently had a back injury that wasn't getting better and might have left him in an invalid state. A suicide note was apparently found at the scene. Welch's wife discovered his body, poor woman.

I'm not just saying this now in the wake of the news, but Welch's solo hit, "Sentimental Lady" (1977) remains one of my favorite tunes and one that I turn up really loud whenever I catch it on the radio, which isn't so much anymore, though I suspect over the next few days my chances of hearing it have increased.

What I didn't know was that when Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Welch wasn't invited to the party. That doesn't seem right.

"It basically comes down to the fact that they don't like me anymore," he told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland at the time. "I guess they can do what they want. I could understand it if I had been a sideman for a year. But I was an integral part of that band ... I put more of myself into that band than anything else I've ever done."

Often there are few more tempestuous relationships in life than the ones between pop music band members. In-fighting has destroyed some of the best. Just look at what happened to The Beatles.

So many personalities. So many temptations---some acted upon, some not. So many directions in which the band is pulled. Agents and managers with hidden agendas. Varying maturity with which fame is handled. Different paths taken by each member's creativity.

All those, and more, can drive wedges and wreck the cohesivenss of a music group.

Welch wasn't with Mac when the band hit its zenith in the mid-to-late 1970s. He was gone by the time "Rumours" dominated record sales in 1977-78.

But there might not have been a Fleetwood Mac, at least not in the manner that it was, without Bob Welch and his guitar.

As a songwriter, Welch had his songs recorded by Kenny Rogers, Sammy Hagar, the Pointer Sisters and others.

Early reports suggest that Welch took his own life to save his wife from having to take care of him as an invalid, due to his spinal situation. However honorable that might appear on the surface, it's too bad that Welch didn't give her a chance to do so. Maybe she would have been a great provider and wouldn't have been dissuaded by such a challenge.

But we'll never know.

Welch's solo album, "French Kiss," had one of the most iconic covers of the 1970s

Suicide, obviously, is an irreversible decision, once successfully carried out. I've always believed it to be a selfish act, relieving the victim but leaving the burden of pain and questions of why to those left behind. It's jumping ship and leaving the women and children behind.

In the other high profile suicide case of 2012---that of former NFL star Junior Seau---the violence of football and post-concussion syndrome has been blamed for contributing to Seau's frame of mind at the time of his self-inflicted gunshot wound.

As for Welch? He hadn't had any occurences of mental illness, that we know of. More questions of "Why?" are forthcoming, of course.'

In a 2003 interview, Welch summed up his expectations when he got into music.

"I just wanted to play guitar in a good band," he said. "I wanted to make the music I love. I wanted to travel the world and have adventures."

Mission accomplished.

Then real life got in the way, apparently.


  1. The reason he was not invited to take part in the rock & roll HOF ceremony, is that he had sued former band-mates Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Christine Perfect-McVie, in 1994, for cheating him out of royalties he felt he was due. As 1998 rolled around, and the HOF inducted Fleetwood Mac, the 3 defendants were not speaking to the plaintiff.

    Best Wishes, Michael O'Dell

  2. Well that makes sense now! You're with music trivia like I am with the sports trivia, O'Dell!


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