The news of Andy Fletcher's death is not only a shock for fans of Depeche Mode. Martin L. Gore and Dave Gahan in particular are likely to be hard hit by the loss of their keyboard player after more than 40 years together. How is the band going? Not clear.
It was 1981 when the very young members of the British synth-pop band Depeche Mode released their first album entitled "Speak And Spell". In the same year, the space shuttle embarked on its first space flight, Götz George premiered as Schimanski in Duisburg's "Tatort" and a shooter critically injured Pope John Paul II in Rome, if anyone remembers all of that. Depeche Mode, on the other hand, is still known to most today.
At the release of their debut album, the subsequently influential band consisted of singer Dave Gahan, guitarist and songwriter Martin L. Gore and keyboardists Vince Clarke and Andrew Fletcher, all in their 20s. But their musical history actually stretches back a few years Next Back.
In 1976 Clarke and Fletcher - both teenagers at the time - founded their first band No Romance in China. This was followed by a few renamings in different occupations. In 1980, singer Dave Gahan joined and suggested naming themselves after a French fashion magazine. Shortly thereafter Vince Clarke left, a year later Alan Wilder came. Since his departure in 1995, Depeche Mode has remained as a trio, but this has not affected their success.
Together they experienced many highs, went through different musical phases and also had to go through some lows privately. Fletcher struggled with depression and entered treatment in 1994, missing live for a while. Dave Gahan, on the other hand, almost lost his life in 1996 due to his drug addiction, which probably would have meant the end of the band back then. Again and again there were quarrels apart from such drastic events, but despite many rumors, a separation was never an issue for the three themselves.
Depeche Mode had a hit with their first single "Just Can't Get Enough" in 1981. Albums like "Some Great Reward" (1984), "Black Celebration" (1986), "Violator" (1990), "Songs Of Faith And Devotion" (1993), "Ultra" (1999) and "Exciter" ( 2001). Depeche Mode have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the most successful bands of all time. Classics like "Enjoy The Silence", "People Are People" and "Personal Jesus" are legendary, unforgotten and can still be heard not only at every 80s party and the regular Depeche Mode parties.
In 2017 Depeche Mode's probably last long player "Spirit" was released, with which the three of them went on a big tour as usual. As in all the decades before, they played in sold-out halls and stadiums, often even on two consecutive days. Her appearance in the former GDR was probably really legendary. On March 7, 1988, Gahan, Gore, Wilder and Fletcher played incognito in East Berlin's Werner-Seelenbinder-Halle in Prenzlauer Berg, thereby writing East German music history. At that time, many fans offered large sums of money to be able to be there, while others immediately forged the tickets. Because where "FDJ birthday concert" was written on it, Depeche Mode was actually in it. Most of those who followed the band in both East and West at the time still do to this day.
And even if it was often rumored that the current tour could really be the last, nobody really wanted to believe that. Rather, most fans hoped that Depeche Mode would do the same as the Rolling Stones, who are still on stage today and only had to say goodbye to their then 80-year-old drummer Charlie Watts last year.
But Andy Fletcher had 20 years less lifespan. Now Dave Gahan and Martin L. Gore have to say goodbye to their friend and keyboardist, who died at the age of only 60 - suddenly and unexpectedly, at least for outsiders. The band announced this on social media on Thursday evening. "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 statement reads. "Our hearts are with his family and we ask that you think of them and respect their privacy at this difficult time."
Depeche Mode involuntarily shrink to the size of a duo. You can guess what that means for the future of the band. A return to the studio or the stage seems unlikely. "I'm not a good songwriter. I could go out with you tonight and talk about all my feelings. But putting that on a piece of paper and making a song out of it - that's not my thing," said Andy Fletcher, although very self-critical in an interview I was allowed to conduct with him in 2005. Nevertheless: Depeche Mode without him is - at least for the moment - unimaginable, not only for die-hard fans.
It is not yet publicly known what Andy Fletcher died of. And so it is also unclear how surprising the news of his death reached the bandmates. Maybe they had the opportunity to say goodbye to their longtime companion, to start thinking about the future of Depeche Mode. Or all of this is still ahead of them - and us.