Andy Fletcher, founder of Depeche Mode keyboardist, dies at 60

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Andy “Fletch” Fletcher, keyboardist of British synth pop giants Depeche Mode for over 40 years, has died at the age of 60.

Depeche mode announced the death of founding member Fletcher on its official social media pages.

A person close to the band said Fletcher died Thursday of natural causes at his home in the UK. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak publicly.

“We are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness at the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member and bandmate Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher,” the band’s posts read. “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.”

Fletcher formed Depeche Mode alongside fellow synthesizers Vince Clarke and Martin Gore and vocalist Dave Gahan, in Basildon, England, in 1980.

The band would explode 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. “.

British group Depeche Mode with (Back LR) Dave Gahan and Alan Wilder (Front LR) Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher.

Frederic Meylan via Getty Images

Clarke would leave the group and be replaced by Alan Wilder after the album.

The group would have international success with 1984’s “Some Great Reward” and the single “People are People” and their importance would only grow in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Fletcher would lend his keyboards to classic albums including “Music for the Masses”, “Black Celebration” and “Violator”.

The first of these resulted in a world tour that resulted in a live album, documentary and legendary concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, which represented the pinnacle of the band’s importance.

The bespectacled redhead with a penchant for chess, Fletcher assumed a low profile in the group. He never sang or wrote 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 singer, and I’m walking around,” he said in the tour documentary, “101”.

But Fletch was a unified figure and often the deciding vote in the quarrels of his most famous bandmates.

He also occasionally played bass in the band.

His death leaves Gahan and Gore as the only permanent members.

Fletcher’s musical peers paid tribute to him when news of his death spread.

“His keyboard sounds not only created Depeche Mode’s sonic approach, but changed the direction of Techno, EDM, Downtempo, Triphop and Electronica. Crucial loss, “tweeted Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid.

The Pet Shop Boys claimed on Twitter that they were “a warm, friendly and fun person who loved electronic music”.

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark tweeted that he was a “beautiful person in an amazing band”.

The eldest of four brothers, Fletcher was born in Basildon and raised in Nottingham, England.

He became childhood friends with Clarke and singer Alison Moyet, who would form Yazoo (known as Yaz in the US) with Clarke after leaving Depeche Mode.

“Since we were 10,” Moyet tweeted on Thursday. “Same ownership. Classmates to tag classmates. He who kept the faith with all the old gang and they with him. It does not calculate. soaring I have no words. “

As teenagers, Fletcher and Clarke would form the short-lived group “No Romance”.

With Gore, whom Fletcher met in a Basildon pub in 1980, they formed the Composition of Sound trio, with all three synthesizers playing. Gahan was recruited into the group later in the year and the name was changed to Depeche Mode.

Fletcher would remain with the group until his death, though reported struggles with depression in 1994 prompted him to skip part of a tour.

He founded his own record label, Toast Hawaii, in 2002, releasing an album by the band CLIENT.

Fletcher DJed at the band’s live shows, which he continued to do at festivals and clubs after he and CLIENT split.

Fletcher leaves behind his nearly 30-year-old wife Gráinne Mullan and their children Megan and Joe.