Andy Fletcher, Depeche Mode keyboardist, dead at 60


Andy Fletcher, the unassuming red-haired, bespectacled keyboardist who for more than 40 years added his synth sounds to Depeche Mode hits like I can’t get enoughhand personal jesusdied 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 group said Fletcher died of natural causes at his home in the UK on Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

“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.”

Fletcher formed the band that would become giants of British electropop with fellow synthesizers Vince Clarke and Martin Gore, and vocalist Dave Gahan, in Basildon, England in 1980.

The group will burst a year later with its first album speak and spellwhich began with the modest success New life and closed with one of the group’s timeless hits, I can’t get enough.

From left, Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore are shown at an event on March 8, 2017 in New York City. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

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

The group will experience international success with the 1984’s A great reward and the bachelor people are peopleand their importance would only grow throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

Fletcher would lend his keyboards to classic albums, including Music for Masses, black celebration and Violator.

The first of these led to a world tour that brought a live album, a documentary, and a legendary gig with over 100,000 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, which represented the pinnacle of the band’s notoriety.

Recent Rock Hall induction

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 documentary, 101.

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

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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.

Tributes are pouring in

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

The Pet Shop Boys said on Twitter that he was “a warm, friendly, funny person who loved electronic music”.

Lol Tolhurst, former member of The Cure:

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

The eldest of four siblings, Fletcher was born in Basildon and grew up in Nottingham, England.

He became childhood friends with Clarke and with 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 Thursday. “Same field. Classmates to tag mates. Him who kept the faith with all the old gang and them with him. It doesn’t count. Fletch. I have no words.”

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

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

Fletcher would remain with the band until his death, although reported problems with depression in 1994 prompted him to be absent from part of a tour.

He launched his own label, Toast Hawaii, in 2002, releasing an album by CLIENT.

Fletcher would DJ sets at the band’s live shows, which he continued to do at festivals and clubs after he and CLIENT parted ways.

Fletcher is survived by his wife of nearly 30 years, Grainne Mullan, and their children Megan and Joe.