Depeche Mode keyboard player Andy Fletcher dies aged 60: Bandmates lead tributes to musician 'who was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh or a cold pint'
- Legendary 1980s electronic band Depeche Mode have announced death of keyboardist Andy Fletcher at 60
- Fletcher co-founded the group with singer Dave Gahan and Martin Gore as schoolboys in Basildon in 1980
- They quickly scored success and hits included Enjoy The Silence, Personal Jesus and Just Can't Get Enough
- The band scored 54 songs on the UK Singles Charts over their 40-year career and had continued to tour
Andy Fletcher, the co-founder and keyboardist of legendary electronic band Depeche Mode, has died aged 60 from natural causes at home.
Fletcher founded the group in Basildon, Essex, in 1980 and they become one of the biggest draws of that decade with a stream of smash hits including 'Just Can't Get Enough', 'Enjoy the Silence' and 'Personal Jesus'.
The musician, nicknamed 'Fletch', was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two years ago, and the synth-pop group continued to tour globally in recent years as one of the most recognisable groups from the 1980s.
Depeche Mode said in a statement: 'We are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness at the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member and bandmate Andy 'Fletch' Fletcher. 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. Our hearts are with his family and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and respect their privacy at this difficult time.'
Fletcher leaves behind a wife, Grainne, to whom he was married for almost 30 years, and two children, Megan and Joe. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, with only 'natural causes' given by a source so far.
Fletcher was born in Nottingham and moved to Basildon as a young boy, where he formed the band that would become known as Depeche Mode with Martin Gore and Vince Clarke. While Clarke left in the early 1980s, Fletcher stayed with the group throughout its four-decade history, from its debut album 'Speak and Spell' to 2017's 'Spirit'.
During this period, two of its albums reached Number 1 in the charts: 'Songs of Faith' and 'Devotion', and 'Ultra'.
Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode performs during the band's 'Global Spirit Tour' in West Valley City, Utah on August 23, 2017
Andy Fletcher during a recording of the 'Later with Jools Holland' TV programme in London on April 28, 2009
(left to right) Fletcher, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode in 1987 during the height of their success
(Left to right) Fletcher with Depeche Mode bandmates Dave Gahan and Martin Gore in Berlin on March 21, 2013
Tributes have poured in for the musician from across the entertainment world. Lol Tolhurst, drummer with The Cure, shared a heartfelt tribute to Fletcher after news of his death broke.
'Very sad news today. Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode has passed,' he tweeted. 'I knew Andy and considered him a friend. We crossed many of the same pathways as younger men. My heart goes out to his family, bandmates, and DM fans. RIP Fletch.'
Carol Decker, lead singer for the band T'Pau, tweeted: 'Oh no!!! Fletch was a lovely guy DM one of my all time favourite bands sending all my love to his family friends and band members.'
And Pet Shop Boys said in a post on Facebook: 'We're saddened and shocked that Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode has died.
'Fletch was a warm, friendly and funny person who loved electronic music and could also give sensible advice about the music business. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends and to Dave Gahan and Martin Gore. Neil & Chris xx'
Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid said: 'His keyboard sounds crafted not just Depeche Mode's sonic approach but shifted the direction of Techno, EDM, Downtempo, Triphop, & Electronica. Crucial loss.'
As one of the co-founders of Depeche Mode in 1980, Fletcher was behind a string of hits including 'Just Can't Get Enough'
Fletcher performing with Depeche Mode at the London Astoria on July 23, 1981
Clockwise from top left: Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder, Andrew Fletcher and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode in Berlin in July 1984
Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode in concert in Budapest, Hungary, on February 2, 2018
And Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark tweeted that he was a 'beautiful person in an amazing band.'
Fletcher was often modest about his role in Depeche Mode compared to that of his fellow musicians, Gore, Alan Wilder and Dave Gahan.
In an interview for the 1989 documentary 101, he described their roles as: 'Martin's the songwriter, Alan's the good musician, Dave's the vocalist, and I bum around.'
Despite their popularity, the band never had a No.1 single, though they reached No.4 across three separate decades with People are People, Barrel of a Gun and Precious.
Industrial metal supergroup Calling All Astronauts tweeted: 'Omg! Fletch has died, Andy was a really nice bloke, I used to go to his restaurant Gascogne off Abby Road, he was always really friendly. And of course Depeche Mode have been an inspiration to so many of us RIP.'
Fletcher last hit the headlines last month when he fractured his wrist on holiday in Barcelona.
The Cure co-founder Lol Tolhurst wrote: 'Very sad news today. Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode has passed. I knew Andy and considered him a friend. We crossed many of the same pathways as younger men . My heart goes out to his family, bandmates, and DM fans. RIP Fletch.'
The band chose their name from French fashion magazine Depeche Mode, with frontman Gahan explaining: 'It means hurried fashion or fashion dispatch. I like the sound of that.'
Fletcher formed the group that would become giants of British electro-pop along with fellow synthesizer players Clarke and Gore, and lead singer Gahan, in Basildon in 1980.
Andy Fletcher with Depeche Mode in concert at the Stade de France in Paris on June 15, 2013
Depeche Mode bandmates (left-right) Martin Gore, Dave Gahan and Andy Fletcher at the Q Awards in London in 2002
Musician Andrew Fletcher of Depeche Mode at the 2013 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival in Austin on March 13, 2013
Depeche Mode played their first gig at school in 1980 and went on to make demo tapes, personally delivering them to record companies.
They eventually recorded their first single 'Dreaming of Me' in December 1980 for independent label Mute Records, whose founder Daniel Miller was interested in their unique electronic sound.
It reached number 57 in the UK charts. Buoyed by their early success, the band recorded a follow-up single, 'New Life', which made it to number 11 in the charts and landed their first appearance on Top of the Pops.
Memorably, the band travelled to the BBC studio in London by train, taking their synthesizers with them.
The band's debut album 'Speak and Spell' opened with 'New Life' and closed with one of the band's enduring hits, 'Just Can't Get Enough.'
It was this third single, 'Just Can't Get Enough', that propelled the group to stardom and scored their first top ten hit.
Around this time, original synthesist Clarke left the band to form Yazoo with Alison Moyet, but Depeche Mode followed their 80s success with other hits, including 'Enjoy the Silence', 'Strangelove' and 'Personal Jesus'.
The group would find international success with 1984's 'Some Great Reward' and the single 'People are People,' and their prominence would only grow throughout 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 led to a world tour that brought a live album, a documentary, and a legendary concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, that represented the pinnacle of the band's prominence.
Fletcher (pictured in 1984) helped define the synth-pop genre of music as keyboardist of Depeche Mode
Musician Andrew Fletcher of Depeche Mode speaks onstage at the Convention Centre in Austin, Texas, in 2013
Andy Fletcher attends a private view of photographer Dave Benett's new exhibition 'Great Shot, Kid' in London on February 16
A fan of Chelsea FC with a penchant for chess, Fletcher assumed a low-profile in the group. He did not sing or write songs, and his face never as familiar as those of his bandmates.
Fletcher handled many of the band's business and media interests; and expanded his career in the 1990s by running a restaurant named Gascogne's in St John's Wood, North West London.
He admitted to suffering depression and endured a breakdown in 1994 after a series of bad investments, but he recovered to continue performing throughout the subsequent decades.
He started his own record label, Toast Hawaii, in 2002, releasing an album by the band CLIENT.
Fletcher would perform DJ sets at the band's live shows, which he continued to do at festivals and clubs after he and CLIENT parted ways.
The band's last studio album 'Spirit' came out in 2017.
In an interview with AFP ahead of its release, its members said they were proud to have attracted listeners of other genres, including rock fans who would have rarely stepped into a dance club.
'One of our legacies is to make electronic music popular to the masses,' Fletcher said.