Tributes to Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher have poured in, after the Depeche Mode’s keyboardist passed away on Friday.
The legendary electronic band announced the news of Fletcher's death on social media, saying they were "shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness with the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member, and bandmate."
Fletcher, aged 60, leaves behind his wife of 30 years, Grainne, and their two children.
The death of the keyboardist has come as unexpected news to millions of fans, many of whom have met Fletcher personally. Others simply felt close to him through the music of Depeche Mode.
“I grew up in the United Kingdom and found Depeche Mode with my best friend in 1981 through their single 'New Life', British fan Paul Emery told Euronews.
“They instantly became the band that I would follow for my life. We started a band because of them in 1983, and 40 years on I'm still releasing electronic music,” Emery, a musician himself, said.
“Fletch was the rock. He kept them together and he suffered no fools. I will miss him immeasurably. I do hope Depeche Mode continues though in his memory,” he continued.
For fans, Fletcher was a big part of what made Depeche Mode such a success. Born in 1961 in Nottingham, UK, he was one of the founding members of the now legendary band, creating it in the 70s with Dave Gahan and Martin Gore.
He remained in the band until his death.
“Andy was such an influence on my life, when I was 16 and first got into Depeche Mode, I explored the lives of each member,” said 22-year-old Robin. “When I found Andrew, his energy and talent shone through and this will definitely live on through the work of Depeche Mode.”
Many fans who met Fletcher said he was approachable and down-to-earth.
“As a devotee of Depeche Mode since the early 80s, I saw the band live for the first time in 82,” Depeche Mode fan and Copenhagen resident Jeannie Mortensen told Euronews.
“I was in love with ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, their sound and their looks," she said. "I got to know the band. I was even driving on a bus with them once on a tour.
“Fletcher was the businessman in the band. The smart one. Also the one fans could walk right up to for a chat or a smoke,” Mortensen said, adding that it was “impossible” to meet the other band members.
“I even had beers with him a few times,” recalled Mortensen. “The last time was on the last tour in Copenhagen and in Budapest, where I also met his lovely wife. And, at a DJ set in Copenhagen back in 2017, I [caught] him a cab back to the hotel in the morning. He gave me a big hug and left.”
Mortensen has already arranged two Depeche Mode tribute concerts in Copenhagen next week.
“Fletch was the glue of the band…I can’t believe he’s no longer with us,” she added.
Music was not Fletcher's only love. He also owned a restaurant in London, the Gascogne, which opened in the 90s.
Paul Sharman, another long-time fan of the band, told Euronews he met Fletcher at his restaurant in London in 2000.
“He was very friendly, happy to chat and sign my CD and it was the day I found out he was originally from Nottingham, just like me,” Sharman said.
“He was a true gent and I still can't believe he is no longer with us and that we won't see him onstage with Depeche Mode again,” he continued.
Depeche Mode has a huge international fan base to this day.
Dutch fan Belle Mendes said Fletcher's death feels like she has lost an important part of her life.
“My father used to listen to their songs. This band was part of my growth and personal development,” she said.
"I actually had the fortune of meeting Fletch and speaking with him many times over the years," says fan Tara Salt. "I’m in my 40s now and I became a Depeche Mode fan when I was 12 years old.
"It’s truly like losing a family member because he’s just been a presence in my life the whole time," she said.
"I have seen them 87 times live and followed them around North America and Europe. For most of those shows I was front row. And you get that interaction during the show and fletch really liked to do that - interact with the fans even then, from behind the keyboard."