Andy “Fletch” Fletcher, keyboardist and one of the founding members of legendary British electro band Depeche Mode, has died. He was 60.
The news was announced via Depeche Mode’s official Twitter account, which posted the news on Thursday afternoon. “Fletch had a true heart of gold and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh or a cold beer,” the post reads. A cause of death was not confirmed.
– Depeche Mode (@depechemode) May 26, 2022
Fletcher formed Depeche Mode in 1980 with Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Vince Clarke, who was initially credited as the group’s writer before abruptly departing after their debut album, leaving Gore as the main songwriter ever since. “Fletch” was the least outwardly conspicuous of the core trio, often sporting sunglasses when standing behind the keyboards, while the more demonstrative Gahan and Gore roamed the stage but still raised his arms to rouse the rabble.
Speaking of his role in the group, Fletcher said in an interview published in Electronic Beats that he was “the big guy in the background without whom this international company called Depeche Mode would never function. There’s this big misconception that in guitar bands, real men work on real instruments night after night, while in a synthesizer band like Depeche Mode, nobody works because they’re all machines. But that’s nonsense. … Aside from the singer, the audience doesn’t really know what role each musician has within the group. But bands like Kraftwerk or Depeche Mode actually work as collaborative collectives. The contribution of each individual remains invisible. And because I don’t push myself to the fore, many people think of me as the fifth wheel.”
During Fletcher’s tenure with the group, they sold over 100 million records worldwide and had 54 songs on the UK Singles Chart. As a member of Depeche Mode, Fletcher was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.
“We are a democracy. If someone doesn’t want to do something, we won’t do it,” Fletcher said in a 2017 interview with The Skinny in the UK. “Martin and Dave live in the US and I live here, but it doesn’t really affect our relationships. Me and Martin are very close. Dave is more like a brother to me – if that makes sense. But what makes bands better than solo artists is the electricity they generate. Sometimes a band can’t stand each other, but that electricity is what makes great music. It’s the same with Depeche Mode; We have moments when we don’t like each other and moments when we love each other. It is the electricity generated between us all that creates good music.”
Fletcher spoke about how the group was ignored by the press in the early days and dismissed as just another synth-pop group until sell-out shows at venues like the Rose Bowl forced the world to take Depeche Mode seriously — but itself Then , credibility sometimes came easier in America than in their home country.
“Britain is the country from which we have received the most criticism. The press never really seemed to take us seriously…until this album,” he said in 2017 when Spirit, the band’s last album to date, was released. “The problem with Britain is that the press is always looking for the next big thing and forgetting about the last big thing. In America and Europe, they tend to be more loyal.” But he added, “These days, in most interviews, almost everyone seems to like us.”
In an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt in 2009, Fletcher stated: “I’m the opposite of Dave. I’m a musician, but nobody recognizes me on the street. Within the band I contribute the pop element. (Gore), who writes most of the songs, loves American blues and country. And Dave discovered jazz for himself. I, on the other hand, will probably forever stay true to the simple pop melodies and the lightness they stand for.”
Speaking of her perseverance, Fletcher told The Skinny that it was “an amazing dream come true. I always tell this story, but we had these accountants when we were starting to make some money and they came up with a plan – that we would only last two or three years. And yet we grew in popularity; We had to scrap that plan.
“We seem to be more popular now than ever. We’re not a big media band and it was never our ambition to be the biggest band in the world – that’s just how things turned out. I think being with Mute Records has been a huge help. In the beginning we had offers from big labels who promised us a lot of money, but instead we went with a man who didn’t offer us any money.”
Fletcher attended a pre-taped acceptance speech when Depeche Mode was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the pandemic in late 2020, but in his typical way of keeping a low profile, he had far less say than either Gahan and Gore . He came forward to say that “it’s a shame we’re not doing the concert” (that would normally be part of a Hall of Fame induction); that “you would still have been stealing cars, Dave” if the band hadn’t made it; and a happy “Off to the pub!” at the end of the inspection.
Speaking to The World in 2009, Fletcher said the group had been a quiet group for many years. “As a rock star, you’re king for a night whenever you step into a city — especially in the States. For one night we owned the saloon, the gaming tables, the alcohol and the girls. And the next evening another city lay at our feet. … Everything has changed. We all have families and children now. I’m the only one in the band who wants a drink. One truck after another goes overboard. You can’t keep this lifestyle going forever.”