Andy “Fletch” Fletcher, the co-founder and keyboardist of beloved synth-pop and New Wave stalwarts Depeche Mode, died at the age of 60.
Fletcher’s bandmates announced his death Thursday on social media; Rolling Stone has confirmed that the cause of death was natural causes. “We are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness with the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member and bandmate Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher,” the band said in a statement.
“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.”
— Depeche Mode (@depechemode) May 26, 2022
Fletcher was a member of Depeche Mode for over 40 years, from their official formation in 1980 and their 1981 debut album Speak and Spell up through their most recent LP, 2017’s Spirit.
In 2020, Fletcher and his Depeche Mode bandmates — longtime members Dave Gahan and Martin Gore and former members Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder — were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their pioneering role in the synth-pop, new wave and electronic music movements; the band has also played an influential role in heavy metal.
“The beauty of using electronics is that music can now be made in your bedroom,” Fletcher told Rolling Stone in 1990. “You don’t need to get four people together in some warehouse to practice. You don’t have to have four excellent musicians fighting among themselves. You can do it in your bedroom, and it’s all down to ideas.”
While Gahan served as the band’s frontman and Gore their main songwriter, the band (and Fletcher himself) often joked about Fletch’s role in the group. “Dave is the singer, Martin is the songwriter, Alan is the great musician and I just bum around,” he joked in the band’s 1989 documentary 101, co-directed by D.A. Pennebaker.
Beyond his admittedly ambiguous musical contributions, Fletcher is credited with playing on all 14 of the band’s studio albums and countless stadium-filling concert performances; Fletcher also had the unofficial title of tiebreaker in the event of Gore and Gahan coming to creative loggerheads.
“Most of the time we sort of agree with each other,” Fletcher told Rolling Stone France in 2017. “But we also have this golden rule that if Martin, Dave or myself really is against something, we would agree with that [tiebreaker]… It’s a team thing.”
“We’re saddened and shocked that Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode has died,” Pet Shop Boys wrote on Twitter. “Fletch was a warm, friendly and funny person who loved electronic music and could also give sensible advice about the music business.”
Fletcher also said of his role in shaping Depeche Mode’s sound in a 2009 interview, “Within the band, I contribute the element of pop. (Gore), who writes most of the songs, loves American blues and country. And Dave has discovered jazz for himself. I, however, will probably eternally feel loyal to the simple pop melodies and the lightness they stand for.”
The Cure’s Lol Tolhurst tweeted Thursday, “Very sad news today. Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode has passed. 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.”