Farewell to Andy Fletcher, a beloved New Wave uncle to countless Depeche Mode fans over the years. Fletch, who died at 60 of natural causes, was a founding member of wise synth-pop pioneers and a crucial part of their chemistry. Every brooding goth teenager who ever wore black in the 80s has a thing for this man, which is why fans everywhere are exploding black celebration in his honor at this time. Fletch represented their original punk-rock spirit of inspired amateurism. As he said at NME from the start, in 1981, “You don’t have to be a great musician to play and get a message across. We certainly didn’t know anything about music.
In Depeche Mode, Fletch always stood between two mega-flamboyant personalities. On one side: brooding songwriter Martin Gore, pouting ‘Understaaand me’ at the camera in a leather jacket. On the other hand: Dave Gahan, the flamboyant, outgoing, extremely topless singer, never hesitates to preen himself in white jeans. Fletch was in the middle, the calm, still a little perplexed to get caught up in such a lengthy pop melodrama.
As Depeche Mode grew increasingly kinky and gothic, Fletch continued to set the vibe of an affable accountant who mistakenly wandered into the industrial sex club. He always seemed to have the same haircut, the same glasses, the same dry smile. Closest to the theatrical decadence of the others was the lip-syncing screams in the “Master and Servant” video.
Fletch has always had a unique and enigmatic role in this most unique and enigmatic group. To be precise, fans weren’t quite sure what he actually had. did. He was renowned for his musical non-intervention. Unlike the other two, he neither sang nor wrote; no one seemed to know if his keyboard was even plugged in. It was part of his mystique. He appeared on stage, but his real job was to mind their business. As Gahan once said, “Maybe we should set up a fax machine for him on stage.”
Yet he was also an eloquent spokesperson for the whole Depeche Mode concept. “The beauty of using electronics is that music can now be made in your bedroom,” he said. rolling stone in 1993. “You don’t need four people in a warehouse to practice.” For him, it freed artists for new kinds of creative release. “Obviously, it’s sad to see the disappearance of the traditional rock band. But there will always be a place for that in the cabaret.
The band started out in the London suburb of Basildon, with synth wizard Vince Clarke writing the songs. They recorded brilliant hits – ‘Dreaming of Me’, ‘New Life’, ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ – and the 1981 classic debut speak and spell. When Clarke quit and moved to Yaz, everyone assumed Depeche Mode was over, but they continued in an extremely odd four-way setup. Martin Gore wrote the songs, Dave Gahan swung his hips, Alan Wilder played most of the music, and Fletch handled the desk. Wilder left in 1995, but the core trio carried on, as happily dysfunctional as ever.
The Modes became older statesmen, touring the world. “Travel gets harder as we get older,” Fletch told me in 2009. “But you know, we travel in a certain luxury.” They have always continued to make great music in the studio – their last album, 2017 Mind, is a truly underrated banger. The Magnificent 2005 play the angel is one of Depeche Mode’s top five albums, with one of their finest singles being “Precious”. And they remained monstrously awesome live. “We’re not the cure,” Fletcher said. “We don’t play for four hours. I think Dave would die of a heart attack if he kept running around the stage dancing that long.
Fletch was famous for his dry and often caustic wit. When Depeche Mode was inducted into the Hall of Fame, via long-distance video, Dave Gahan gave a speech thanking the band’s artistic heroes, like David Bowie, Iggy and the Stooges, the Clash. Fletcher added: “The Eagles!” In the classic DA Pennebaker documentary 101, fans follow the band on a US tour. Fletch spends the whole movie looking slightly surprised, but amused by all the fan hysteria around him, not to mention the melodrama of the band itself. This is how fans will remember him. RIP, Fletch.