Welch, who was with the band from 1971 until 1974, was discovered by his wife with a suicide note left nearby. He’d pulled the trigger around 12.15pm.
Law enforcement officials say the musician had been experience health issues in recent months.
Don Aaron of Metropolitan Nashville Police Department reported last night: “Officers discovered Mr Welch with a single gunshot wound to the chest. There was a suicide note found at the residence. There was no evidence of foul play.”
Founding drummer Mick Fleetwood said: “Bob was a very, very profoundly intelligent human being and always in good humour. His legacy would be the songwriting abilities that he brought to Fleetwood Mac, which will survive all of us.”
Welch joined the band after they’d lost Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer. When Danny Kirwan left a year later following an onstage fight with Welch, he was instrumental in leading them further away from their original blues sound towards a more melodic pop output that would result in global superstardom after he’d left himself.
The Californian’s own departure came following the band’s Heroes Are Hard to Find album, as tensions between bandmates and his private life came to a head.
He went on to found Paris before releasing solo album French Kiss in 1977, which went platinum.
He’d remained connected with Fleetwood Mac into the 1990s, but was not invited to their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. He told press at the time: “My era was the bridge era. It was a transition – but it was an important period in the history of the band.”
Another ex-guitarist, Bob Weston, died in January at the age of 64.
-Classic Rock Magazine