Fleetwood Mac: The Bob Welch Years

The rock group Fleetwood Mac was had many lineups in its 50 year career. Most fans only know of the lineup with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

That’s the longest running version of the band, but without Bob Welch, there probably wouldn’t have been a band around for Buckingham and Nicks to join.

Welch was only in Fleetwood Mac for three years but those were important years. Welch was a main songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist.

Amazingly, despite his incredible contribution to the band, he was not inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of the band. A huge oversight in my opinion.

Welch came onboard when founder Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer left, and Danny Kirwan soon departed. All three were songwriters and guitarists, which left a huge void that Welch filled. Christine McVie also joined the band around the same time as Welch, which signaled a shift away from blues to a more pop sound.

Welch contributed to the Future Games, Bare Trees, Penguin, Mystery to Me and Heroes Are Hard to Find albums.

Songs you might recognize are “Emerald Eyes”, “Hypnotized”, “Sentimental Lady”, “Future Games”, “Bermuda Triangle” and “Silver Heels”.

The group put out five albums in those three years, and Welch and McVie wrote most of the songs, with help from Kirwan. Welch gave them a steady hand and a smooth, radio-friendly voice.

His departure in 1974 to go solo opened the door for Buckingham and Nicks. Welch released several albums in the late 1970s that charted and includes several hit singles, including “Sentimental Lady”, “Ebony Eyes”, “Precious Love” and “Church”.

 

Unfortunately, the smooth rock sound fell out of favor in the 1980s.

Welch tried his luck with a band called Paris and other solo projects but he had very little success. Life proved tough, financially and health wise. He suffered declining health and spinal surgery proved unsuccessful. He committed suicide in 2012.

On his omission from the Hall of Fame, he said:

“It was a transition. But it was an important period in the history of the band. Mick Fleetwood dedicated a whole chapter of his biography to my era of the band and credited me with ‘saving Fleetwood Mac’. Now they want to write me out of the history of the group. It hurts.”

Welch had a well-developed sense of commercial appeal, which Fleetwood Mac dearly needed. His contributions to Fleetwood Mac cannot be disputed. Failing to be included in the Hall of Fame broke his heart. It was a huge disappointment to his fans and those who know how valuable those years in the life of Fleetwood Mac.


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