Bob Welch, the former guitarist from Fleetwood Mac, was found dead in his home Thursday, apparently of suicide. Welch wasn't Fleetwood Mac's first guitarist, but he may have been its most influential. He co-managed the band for several years during an era of transition, playing on five albums, including "Bare Trees" and "Mystery to Me."
Although he was not always on good terms with the band after he split off and started his solo career, Welch later repaired his relationship with lead singer Mick Fleetwood and later performed with Fleetwood and Christine McVie as guests.
Fleetwood told Reuters that Welch "was a huge part of [the band's] history which sometimes gets forgotten. Mostly his legacy would be his songwriting abilities that he brought to Fleetwood Mac, which will survive all of us. If you look into our musical history, you'll see a huge period that was completely ensconced in Bob's work."
"He was a very, very profoundly intelligent human being and always in good humor, which is why this is so unbelievably shocking," he said.
Welch time with Fleetwood Mac was before Stevie Knicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band, and he and Knicks got to know one another well over the years. She released a statement Friday, calling him "an amazing guitar player."
"He was funny, sweet--and he was smart--I am so very sorry for his family and for the family of Fleetwood Mac--so, so sad..."
A family friend Bart Herbison, the executive director of the National Songwriters Association, said Welch had recently undergone spinal surgery and had been given a poor prognosis for recovery.
"He had seen his father become and invalid and watched his mother care for him for many years," Herbison said. "In the letter he left, he told [his wife] Wendy, "I'm not going to do this to you."
Here are three of Welch's biggest hits: "Sentimental Lady", which was first released as a song on Fleetwood Mac's "Bare Trees," and then reworked for his solo album "French Kiss;' "Hypnotized," from Fleetwood Mac's "Mystery to Me;" and "Ebony Eyes," from "French Kiss."