Bob Welch Biography & Facts
Robert Lawrence Welch Jr. (August 31, 1945 – June 7, 2012) was an American musician who was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to 1974. He had a successful solo career in the late 1970s. His singles included "Hot Love, Cold World", "Ebony Eyes", "Precious Love", "Hypnotized", and his signature song, "Sentimental Lady".
Welch was born in Hollywood, California, into a show business family. His father, Robert L. Welch Sr., was a producer and screenwriter at Paramount Pictures, producing films starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Welch Sr. produced the 25th Annual Academy Awards TV special in 1953 and The Thin Man TV series from 1958 to 1959. Bob's mother, Templeton Fox, was a singer and actress who worked with Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre in Chicago and appeared in TV and movies from 1962 to 1979.
Welch learned clarinet in his childhood, switching to guitar in his early teens. His interests were jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music. He was accepted into Georgetown University, but instead moved to Paris, planning to attend the Sorbonne. Welch told People in a 1979 interview that, in Paris, "I mostly smoked hash with bearded guys five years older" and spent most of his time "sitting in the Deux Magots café". He returned to Southern California, where he briefly studied French at the University of California, Los Angeles but did not complete a degree.
In 1964, Welch joined the Los Angeles-based vocal group The Seven Souls as a guitarist. The Seven Souls lost a battle of the bands competition, the prize being a contract with Epic Records, to Sly and the Family Stone. The Seven Souls' 1967 single "I'm No Stranger" made no impact at the time of its release, despite subsequent issue in France and Italy. Its B-side, "I Still Love You", has since become a Northern Soul anthem, with original copies selling up to £400. The Seven Souls broke up in 1969.
Welch subsequently returned to Paris and started a trio, Head West, which was not a success. He later told People that his time in Paris (1969-1971) was "living on rice and beans and sleeping on the floor."
In 1971, Welch auditioned for Fleetwood Mac at Benifold, their retreat in England. The band had recently lost one of its front-line members, guitarist Jeremy Spencer, and were looking for a replacement. Judy Wong, a friend and part-time secretary for the band, recommended her high school friend Welch. The band had a few meetings with Welch and decided to hire him, despite not having previously played with him, after listening to some of his songs on tape. Welch was assigned rhythm guitar, backing up lead guitarist Danny Kirwan. Welch also lived in the band's communal home, 'Benifold', located in Hampshire.
Using mobile equipment borrowed from The Rolling Stones, the band recorded material for three albums at Benifold: Bare Trees, Penguin and Mystery to Me. The band's first album to feature Christine McVie and Welch, Future Games, was recorded at Advision Studios in London (as is cited on the back of the album jacket). The next album, Bare Trees, was mostly recorded at De Lane Lea Studios in Wembley, London.
In September 1971 the band released Future Games, with the title song written by Welch. This album was different from anything the band had done previously. In 1972, six months after the release of Future Games, the band released Bare Trees, which featured Welch's "Sentimental Lady". This song was a big hit for Welch five years later when he re-recorded it for his solo album French Kiss. Christine McVie also sang on the remake, and was a producer of the song.
Friction: Danny Kirwan
The band was comfortable playing in the studio, but tours started to be problematic. Kirwan developed an alcohol dependency, and by 1972 was becoming alienated from Welch and the rest of the band. Welch had enormous respect for Kirwan's talents as a guitarist, singer and songwriter — he later described Kirwan as "a brilliant musician" — and in the sixteen months he and Kirwan were together in Fleetwood Mac, they had a productive musical partnership. But Mick Fleetwood recalled, "They were very different as people and as musicians". On a personal level there was friction between them, and Welch, an outgoing Californian, found Kirwan to be withdrawn, insecure and difficult to communicate with. He also suspected that Kirwan did not appreciate his musical style. "I think Danny thought I was too clever a player ... too jazzy, too many weird notes. I don't feel he loved my stuff to death."In 1999 Welch said Kirwan had been "a talented, gifted musician, almost equal to Pete Green in his beautiful guitar playing and faultless string bends," but commented in a later interview: "Danny wasn't a very lighthearted person, to say the least. He probably shouldn't have been drinking as much as he did, even at his young age. He was always very intense about his work, as I was, but he didn't seem to ever be able to distance himself from it and laugh about it."Before a concert on a US tour in August 1972, a backstage argument between a drunken Kirwan and Welch resulted in Kirwan smashing his guitar, trashing the dressing room and refusing to go on stage. Having reportedly smashed his head bloody on a wall, Kirwan watched the band struggle through the set without him, with Welch trying to cover his guitar parts. Welch remembered, "I was extremely pissed off, and the set seemed to drag on forever." The band fired Kirwan, and the artistic direction of Fleetwood Mac was left in the hands of Welch and Christine McVie. Fleetwood said later that the pressure had become too much for Kirwan, and he had suffered a breakdown.
Over the next three albums Fleetwood Mac released, they constantly changed line-ups around the core of Mick Fleetwood, the McVies and Welch. Kirwan was replaced by Savoy Brown lead singer Dave Walker and Bob Weston on lead guitar. Both Walker and Weston played on Penguin. Released in January 1973, the album reached No. 49 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart in the United States. This album contained songs "Bright Fire" and "Revelations" by Welch.
Mystery to Me contained Welch's song "Hypnotized", which earned significant FM radio airplay in the United States. However, as a result of an aborted tour, Mystery to Me only reached No. 67 in the States.
'Fake Mac' and Relocation
Internal stresses caused by line-up changes, touring, the deterioration of the McVies' marriage (exacerbated by John's alcoholism), and an affair between Weston and Fleetwood's wife, Jenny Boyd, were debilitating to the band. Weston was sacked and the band wanted to cancel an upcoming tour of the US.
The band's manager, Clifford Davis, did not want to cancel the tour, claiming he owned the Fleetwood Mac name. In a letter to the remaining Fleetwood Mac members, Davis detailed his plans of making the band into a new "star-quality, headlining act"—essentially firing the band, but offering them jobs in his new band. Welch, and the other ban.... Discover the Bob Welch popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Bob Welch books.