Andrew Fletcher, a founding member of influential English electronic band Depeche Mode, has died. Though Rolling Stone got confirmation that he died from “natural causes,” a statement from the band simply referred to the “untimely passing” of their “dear friend, family member, and bandmate.” The statement also noted that Fletcher “had a true heart of gold and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh, or a cold pint.” Fletcher was 60.
The group that would become the Depeche Mode we know today formed in Basildon, England, in 1980 as Composition Of Sound. When they brought in singer Dave Gahan, they changed the band name to Depeche Mode. The band was enormously successful in the U.K. and also found success in the United States with hits like “Enjoy The Silence,” “Just Can’t Get Enough,” and “Personal Jesus.”
Fletcher, an electronic bass and keyboard player, appeared on every one of Depeche Mode’s albums, beginning with 1981’s Speak & Spell up through 2017’s Spirit, but it was a running joke around the band that nobody really knew what Fletcher did. Rolling Stone quotes Fletcher saying in the 1989 Depeche Mode documentary 101 that “Dave [Gahan] is the singer, Martin [Gore] is the songwriter, Alan [Wilder] is the great musician, and I just bum around.” He was often seen as the de facto manager of the group, handling the business side of things, as well as filling a peacemaker role in keeping the other members together.
In 2020, Depeche Mode was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, with COVID forcing the organizers to cancel the extravagant live event and usual celebratory concert performances in favor of a series of low-key videos. While this may have been a disappointment for some, the members of Depeche Mode turned it into a delightfully endearing Zoom call in which the pioneering electronic musicians interrupted each other and marveled at the ability to communicate with each other on video.