Bob Welch, Ex-Fleetwood Mac Guitarist, Dead in Apparent Suicide
Bob Welch, Ex-Fleetwood Mac Guitarist, Dead in Apparent Suicide

Bob Welch, a former Fleetwood Mac guitarist in the 1970s who helped bridge the gap between the band's blues-focused and pop-rock incarnations, died Thursday at his Nashville home of an apparent suicide, according to police. He was 66.

WKRN-TV, Nashville's ABC affiliate, as well as the Tennessean newspaper are reporting that Welch's wife found the musician with a gunshot wound to the chest at their home in the suburb of Antioch, Tenn. shortly after noon.

Police spokesman Don Aaron said Welch left a suicide note. He also noted that the musician had a history of health issues, but did not elaborate further.

Born in Los Angeles, Welch had played in various groups before being recruited by the British blues rock-based Fleetwood Mac in 1971 after two of its key members, Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, departed. He played guitar and sang on five albums during his tenure, starting with 1971's Future Games and 1972's Bare Trees, which included the song "Sentimental Lady" -- a bigger hit for him after he went solo.

In 1973, the band released two albums, including Mystery to Me, featuring the Welch-penned "Hypnotized." After the departure of Danny Kirwan, Welch took over lead guitar duties for 1974's Heroes Are Hard to Find, his final album with the band before departing and making way for Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to join.

He was not included in the band when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Welch later found greater success as a solo artist. His platinum-selling 1977 album French Kiss spawned three singles, "Sentimental Lady," "Ebony Eyes" and "Hot Love, Cold World."

Heroes Are Hard to Find became the band's first top 40 album, peaking at No. 34 on the Billboard 200. All five albums he released with the group reached the top 100.

Four of his solo albums hit the Billboard 200, including the platinum-selling French Kiss in 1977. The album reached No. 12 the following year and spawned his only top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100: "Sentimental Lady" (No. 8). Welch would continue to rack up hit singles, charting four more on the Hot 100 through 1979's "Church."