Depeche Mode founding keyboardist dies in UK
Andy “Fletch” Fletcher, the unassuming, bespectacled red-haired keyboardist who for more than 40 years added his synth sounds to Depeche Mode hits like Just Can’t Get Enough and Personal Jesus, has died at 60.
Depeche Mode announced the death of founding member Fletcher on its official social media pages.
A person close to the group said Fletcher died of natural causes at his home in the UK on Thursday.
“We are shocked and filled with immense sadness at the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member and teammate Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher,” the group’s messages said.
“Fletch had a real heart of gold and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh or a cold pint.”
English roots before global success
Fletcher formed the group that became giants of British electro-pop with fellow synthesizers Vince Clarke and Martin Gore, and vocalist Dave Gahan, in Basildon, England in 1980.
The band broke out a year later with their debut album Speak and Spell, which opened with the modest hit New Life and ended with one of the band’s enduring hits, Just Can’t Get Enough.
Clarke left the band and was replaced by Alan Wilder after the album.
The band enjoyed international success with Some Great Reward in 1984 and the single People are People, and their notoriety grew throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
Fletcher lent his keyboards to classic albums such as Music for the Masses, Black Celebration and Violator.
The first of these led to a world tour that brought a live album, a documentary and a legendary concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, which represented the pinnacle of the band’s notoriety.
A fan of the Chelsea FC football team with a penchant for chess, Fletcher assumed a low profile in the group. He did not sing or write songs, and his face was never as familiar as that of his bandmates.
“Martin is the songwriter, Alan is the good musician, Dave is the vocalist and I hang around,” he said in the tour’s documentary, 101.
But Fletch was a unifying figure and often the deciding vote in the feuds of his most famous bandmates.
He also occasionally played bass in the band.
Depeche Mode was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. Gahan, Fletcher and Gore had to accept the honor remotely along with all the other inductees of the pandemic year. As usual, Fletcher let his comrades talk about almost everything.
His death leaves Gahan and Gore as the only permanent members.