Andy Fletcher, co-founder of Depeche Mode, dies at 60

Andy Fletcher, founding member of multi-platinum new wave band Depeche Mode, has died. He was 60 years old.

The keyboardist helped define the sound of synth-pop and alternative rock of the 80s and 90s through hits such as “Just Can’t Get Enough”, “Personal Jesus”, “Enjoy the Silence” and “People Are People”.

Fletcher’s death was announced by Depeche Mode in a Twitter post, which read, in part, ‘We are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness at the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member and teammate Andy’ Fletch’Fletcher. 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.

“Very sad news today. Andy Fletcher from Depeche Mode passed away,” Lol Tolhurst from The Cure wrote on Twitter. “I knew Andy and considered him a friend. We went through many of the same paths as the younger men. My heart goes out to his family, bandmates and DM fans. RIP Fletch.

A cause of death has not been announced.

Depeche Mode in 1982: Andy Fletcher, left, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder and Martin Gore.

(Peter Noble/Redferns via Getty Images)

Depeche Mode, which was founded in 1980 by Fletcher, vocalist Dave Gahan and keyboardists Martin L. Gore and Vince Clarke in Basildon, England, became one of the most successful rock bands of its time. (Alan Wilder replaced Clarke in 1981.) Of his role in the band, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020, Fletcher humbly said, “Martin is the songwriter, Alan is the good musician, Dave is the lead singer and me hang out.

During a 2013 interview with online magazine Electronic Beats, Fletcher described himself as “the big guy in the background, without whom this international company called Depeche Mode would never work”.

More than just a keyboard player in the band, Fletcher was an essential part of the studio team. For example, on “Walking in My Shoes,” from 1993’s “Songs of Faith and Devotion,” Fletcher tapped a suitcase with a pole to get the right percussive sound. He noted that a trait of synth-focused acts is a certain anonymity, which works great when you want to go to the movies but not when you feel unrecognized as an artist.

“Apart from the singer, the public does not really know what role has which musician within the group. But groups like Kraftwerk or Depeche Mode actually function as divisions of work collectives. Everyone’s contribution remains invisible. And because I don’t push myself to the fore, many take me for the fifth wheel.

Fletcher was born in Nottingham, England on July 8, 1961. The seeds of Depeche Mode were planted during the punk and new wave explosion of the late 1970s, when Fletcher and his friend Clarke created a group called No Romance in China, which turned into Composition. sound. After Fletcher and Clarke discovered Kraftwerk and other early electronic music, they swapped strings for circuits, added soul mate Gore, and soon after hired Gahan as their vocalist.

Clarke left the group shortly after the release of their debut album “Speak & Spell” in 1981 to form Yazoo with Alison Moyet, and Depeche Mode hired Wilder as their replacement (he left in 1995). Along with Gahan and Gore, Fletcher remained with Depeche Mode over the decades as the group went platinum with albums such as “Music for the Masses”, “Violator” and “Songs of Faith and Devotion”, which did not is no small feat considering the very public audience of the band members. battling addiction and depression in the 1990s.

Depeche Mode soared from the start. His 1981 video for “Just Can’t Get Enough” was part of a wave of synthesizer-driven British pop acts that stormed the US charts, many of them earning their first attention in the States. United through a newly launched cable network called MTV. Alongside Human League, Eurythmics, Thompson Twins and Duran Duran, Depeche Mode combined classic Brill Building-style melodies and song structures with electronic beeps, squiggles and beats. Early hits such as “Master and Servant”, “Blasphemous Rumours” and “Everything Counts” ruled new wave clubs and gay discos with new sound ideas incorporated into 12-inch remix versions.

Los Angeles fell particularly hard for Depeche Mode, and the feeling was mutual. On June 18, 1988, on the final show of their Music for the Masses tour, the band sold out the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, a feat documented for the 1989 live album and DA Pennebaker-directed “101” documentary.

The following year, the band returned to Los Angeles to promote their just-released commercial breakthrough, “Violator.” A 1990 encounter at Wherehouse Entertainment on 3rd Street and La Cienega Boulevard. drew around 5,000 fans – forcing 130 LAPD officers in riot gear to shut it down. A Times article described the incident as a “crowd scene”.

In their 1990s heyday, only U2 were a bigger band than Depeche Mode among artists to emerge from the UK new wave scene. But unlike the seemingly inexhaustible Bono, the members of Depeche Mode have paced their studio output, releasing studio albums every four years since 1997’s “Ultra.”

Depeche Mode’s latest album, “Spirit”, was released in 2017.

Accepting their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Gahan wondered what he would have done if he hadn’t joined Fletcher, Gore and company in Depeche Mode. “You would always steal cars, Dave,” Fletcher joked, noting that after the live-streamed event he would head to the pub for a pint.

On Twitter, the musicians expressed their grief and admiration for Fletcher. “So sad to hear that Fletch passed away. Way too young. RIP,” said Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle.

The Pet Shop Boys wrote: “We are saddened and shocked that Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode has passed away. Fletch was a warm, friendly and fun person who loved electronic music and could also give great advice on the music industry.

Fletcher is survived by his wife, Gráinne Mullan, and their two children, Megan and Joe.

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