Andrew Fletcher, keyboardist and founding member of British electronic band Depeche Mode, has died aged 60. A statement posted by the band on social media said: “We are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness at the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member, and bandmate Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher.
Formed in Basildon in the late 1970s, the band had 17 UK Top 10 albums and international success with songs including Enjoy The Silence, Personal Jesus and Just Can’t Get Enough.
The band went on to say in their statement: “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 going to his family, and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and respect their privacy during this difficult time.”
Fletcher was born in 1961 in Nottingham, and moved to Basildon where he formed the band Composition Of Sound in the late 1970s alongside Martin Gore and Vince Clarke. With the recruitment of singer Dave Gahan, they changed their name to Depeche Mode, and the quartet went on to enjoy a string of early 80s hits.
With the departure of Clarke, who went on to form Yazoo and then Erasure, Gore became lead songwriter and, with the addition of Alan Wilder, the band’s sound took on a darker, more gothic twist. They had huge international success in the late 80s and early 90s.
Fletcher leaves behind a wife, Grainne, to whom he was married for nearly 30 years, and two children, Megan and Joe.
He played on all of Depeche Mode’s studio albums, including Songs Of Faith And Devotion in 1993 and Ultra in 1997, both of which reached number one on the UK album chart.
Being neither the vocalist nor the main songwriter, Fletcher was later often seen by fans as the band’s manager, handling the business side of a band credited with selling over 100 million records. in the world. In 2013, he told an interviewer that he was “the big guy in the background, without whom this international company called Depeche Mode would never work”.
In director DA Pennebaker’s 1989 documentary 101, which was based around the 101st date of the band’s Music For The Masses tour, Fletcher was even more discreet about his role, saying “Martin is the songwriter, Alan is the good musician, Dave is the singer, and I hang around.
Wilder quit in 1995, leaving the band in three pieces. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.
One of the first artists to pay tribute was Lol Tolhurst, founding member of The Cure, who said: “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.
Yazoo singer Alison Moyet, who recorded on the same label as Depeche Mode, mentioned she had known Fletcher since childhood: “I just heard the news. Since we were 10 years old. Same domain. Classmates to tag classmates. He who kept faith with all the old band and they with him. It doesn’t calculate. Fletch. I have no words.”
The Official Pet Shop Boys Social Media Account post: “Fletch was a warm, friendly and fun person who loved electronic music and could also give sound advice on the music industry.”