Check out the November 1999 Q&A with Bob Welch here !
In 1964, Welch landed a job as a guitar player in an R&B band called Ivory Hudson and the Harlequins. A bi-racial band, the group played soul music in all-black clubs. They eventually changed their name to the Seven Souls, and competed for a "make or break gig" for a record deal with CBS, but lost out to Sly and the Family Stone. After the Seven Souls broke up in 1969, Welch and two others formed Head West and did shows in Europe until 1971, when a lawsuit left them all broke. It was then that a mutual friend, Judy Wong, told Bob that Fleetwood Mac was looking for a guitarist.
They all hit it off from the very beginning, and Welch became the first American to join Fleetwood Mac. He never even had a real audition. As Christine McVie remembers, "We wrote a lot together, me and Bob...He was the kind of guy that after dinner would sit down with a glass of wine and a huge cigar the size of a billiard cue and tell these amazing stories. He was a wonderful story-teller with a terrific sense of humor, so he and I hit it off well." Not only did Welch's musical contributions greatly enhance the band, but his 'California-hippie' personality gave a much needed boost to the band's self-confidence-- he was like a breath of fresh air. Mick Fleetwood went so far as to say that he "saved" the band. As Bob says, "They were traumatized because they'd gone from being one of the most successful bands around, to having two of their front men leave within a few months of each other."
Welch made five albums with Fleetwood Mac-- Future Games, Bare Trees, Penguin, Mystery to Me, and Heroes are Hard to Find. He was with the band when Danny Kirwan departed and saw the hiring (and eventual firing) of Bob Weston and Dave Walker. He stuck around during a year-long legal battle with the group's manager, Clifford Davis, over who 'owned' the name Fleetwood Mac. (Upon hearing that Bob Weston had been fired and the tour would be cut short, Davis had put together another band called Fleetwood Mac and had sent them on the road.) Once they were finally granted an injunction which prevented anyone else from operating under the name Fleetwood Mac, Welch and John McVie decided to assist Fleetwood in managing the group themselves. They relocated to L.A. and released Heroes are Hard to Find in 1974, which they thought would have to be a great success after all they had been through-- unfortunately, they were wrong.
Welch, who had stayed with the band longer than any previous guitarist, had reached the end of his rope. Marital difficulties with his wife Nancy didn't help matters, and he felt drained creatively; "I had come to the point where I didn't feel I had anything else to offer the band...Faced with the prospect of making another Fleetwood record, I wouldn't have known what to do. I had a certain type of thing that was liked, but it wasn't any great success...my attitude was that after four years of ups and downs, something had to give." That Christmas, Bob Welch told the band he was leaving.
Welch kept a low profile until 1976, when he reappeared as the leader of his new band, Paris. He made two albums with the group before taking on his own manager, Mick Fleetwood, and creating his own solo album, French Kiss, in 1977. The album was "primarily a quality pop-rock radio album bursting with singles potential, and comparable to the very best aspects of Mac's 'White Album' and Rumours." With some help from Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and Lindsey Buckingham, he successfully re-released 'Sentimental Lady' (originally released in 1972 from the Bare Trees album) and had another hit with a song called 'Ebony Eyes' in 1978. Also assisting him on his albums was guitarist Todd Sharp.
Bob currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee and recently released a track on Mike Lawson's CD, Ticket to Fly. In the fall of 1999, Bob released his first new album since Eye Contact, Bob Welch Looks At Bop.
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