Bob Birch of Elton John's Band Dead in Apparent Suicide
Bob Birch of Elton John's Band Dead in Apparent Suicide

Elton John "devastated and shocked" ... "In all our years on the road he never played or sang a bad note"

Bob Birch, a bass player and prolific session sideman best known as a long-time member of Elton John's band, died Wednesday of an apparent suicide at his home in Los Angeles. He was 56.

"We are very sad to report the sudden death today of Bob Birch," a message on John's website said. "Bob had been a member of the Elton John band since 1992, the longest-serving bassist in Elton's touring band."

Elton and Bob Playing 'Rocket Man' in 2010

Ed Winter of the Los Angeles Coroner's office announced that Birch was found in his San Fernando Valley home after 1 a.m. PDT with a gunshot wound to the head. Officials say the case is being investigated as a possible suicide.

According to TMZ, no suicide note has been found at the scene.

Over the years, the Detroit native has amassed a prodigious amount of credits, both in the studio and live. With Elton John, he has played bass on albums including 1995's "Made in England" and "The Red Piano" in 2008.

John released a statement on Thursday saying he is "devasted and shocked" by the loss of his friend.

"To me Bob was family," he said. "He had been a member of my band for 20 years; we played over 1400 concerts together. He was one of the greatest musicians I have ever worked with, and in all our years on the road he never played or sang a bad note. I cannot find the words to describe this tragic death, and how much I loved him. May he rest in peace."

In the studio, Birch also played bass on Luciano Pavarotti's "The Duets" in 2008, B.B. King's "80" effort in 2005 and he contributed piano to Corinne Bailey Rae's "The Sea" in 2010.

Live, he performed with a wide slate of artists including Billy Joel, Sting, Eric Clapton, Melissa Etheridge and Clint Black, among others.

Birch is survived by his wife Michele and their son, Jonathan.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print