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Andy Fletcher, Depeche Mode co-founder and keyboardist, dies at 60

Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Andy Fletcher, a founding member of multiplatinum new wave band Depeche Mode, has died. He was 60.

The keyboard player helped define the sound of 1980s and ’90s synth-pop and alternative rock through hits including “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 with 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.”

“Very sad news today. Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode has passed,” wrote the Cure’s Lol Tolhurst on Twitter. “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.”

A cause of death was not announced.

Depeche Mode, which was founded in 1980 by Fletcher, singer Dave Gahan and keyboardists Martin L. Gore and Vince Clarke in Basildon, England, ascended to become one of the most successful rock acts of its time. (Alan Wilder replaced Clarke in 1981.) Of his role in the group, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020, Fletcher humbly said, “Martin’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the vocalist, and I bum around.”

 

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

More than a mere keyboardist 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 pounded on a suitcase with a pole to get the proper percussion sound. He noted that one trait of synth-driven acts is a certain anonymity, which works great when you want to go to the movie theater but not when you feel unrecognized as an artist.

“Apart from the singer, the audience doesn’t really know which role which musician has within the group. But bands like Kraftwerk or Depeche Mode actually work as divisions of labor collectives. The contribution of each individual remains invisible. And because I don’t push myself to the fore, many mistake 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 friend Clarke started a band called No Romance in China, which morphed into Composition of Sound. After Fletcher and Clarke discovered Kraftwerk and other early electronic music, they swapped strings for circuits, added kindred spirit Gore and, not long after, brought on Gahan as vocalist.

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