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Andy Fletcher, one of the founding members of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Depeche Mode, has died. The “untimely passing” was announced over the band’s social accounts, with the group stating that they are “shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness” at their bandmate’s death. He was 60 years old.
Fletcher, often referred to within the band and by fans as “Fletch,” was one of three consistent members of the chart-topping synth-rock group since their 1980 formation. While the creative core of Depeche Mode for most of their career has been primary songwriter Martin Gore and frontman Dave Gahan, Fletcher has served as more of a utility player for the group over the years, filling in on bass and synth duties as needed (particularly live).
Fletcher also shouldered a good deal of the band’s business and legal responsibilities, with the band having no official manager until Jonathan Kessler officially signed on with them in 1994. After the departure of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Alan Wilder in 1995 reduced Depeche Mode to a trio, Fletcher also took on increased importance as an intermediary and in-effect tiebreaking vote between Gore and Gahan.
Still, with no official instrumental designation within the band, and with no songwriting credits on any of their albums, Fletcher’s actual role in Depeche Mode was often speculated about (a half-hour YouTube video called “Just what exactly does Fletch do?” has over 143,000 views) and occasionally derided. Fletch himself played into the joke over the years, saying in 1989’s 101 documentary that “Martin’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the vocalist… and I bum around.”
Fletcher, Gore, Gahan and original songwriter and keyboardist Vince Clarke formed Depeche Mode in Basildon, England in 1980, with Clarke leaving after the first album and being replaced by Wilder. The group quickly became one of the defining acts of the synth-pop era, with effervescent U.K. hits “Just Can’t Get Enough,” “See You” and “Dreaming of Me,” before taking a darker turn following Clarke’s departure and eventually conquering the American underground with harder-edged and more provocatively themed singles like “People Are People,” “Blasphemous Rumors” and “Strangelove.”
The group’s 1990 blockbuster Violator, and accompanying worldwide crossover smashes “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy the Silence” (the latter the group’s lone Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hit, peaking at No. 8), confirmed Depeche Mode as one of the biggest global acts of the pre-grunge alt-rock era. Their 1993 follow-up Songs of Faith and Devotion debuted atop both the Billboard 200 albums chart and the U.K.’s Official Charts, and the group has hit the top 10 on both listings with each of their six LP releases since, most recently 2017’s Spirit. They have remained a top live draw, playing arenas and stadiums around the world to this day, and an oft-cited influence on bands from genres ranging from alt-pop to industrial to nu-metal. In 2020, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In addition to his work in Depeche Mode, Fletcher briefly ran an imprint of storied British indie label Mute Records called Toast Hawaii, signing electro-pop duo Client. He also spent time as a restauranteur, opening the Gascogne restaurant in London’s St. John’s Wood district in the ’90s, and did some side performing as a DJ, touring briefly in the mid-’10s.
“Fletch had a true heart of gold and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh, or a cold pint,” the band’s statement announcing his passing continues. “Our hearts are with his family, and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and respect their privacy in this difficult time.” See the complete statement below.
— Depeche Mode (@depechemode) May 26, 2022
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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