DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry Two Hundred Forty-Three.
Saturday, 2022.06.04, 1:00 PM central time.

Andy "Fletch" Fletcher is dead.  I'm not as sad about it as one might think.
Current Mood:  Annoyed, but not with the subject of this post.
Current Scent:  L'Homme Ideal EDT by Guerlain.


Hello, everyone.

On Thursday, May 26th, while sitting at work, I received a message on my phone from my ex-wife.  This wasn't unusual, since we occasionally send each other messages about the kids or ask each other questions.  However, this message was different.

It was a screen capture of a post that Depeche Mode had put up on Facebook, noting that Andrew "Fletch" Fletcher of the group had passed away at the age of sixty.

I told her that I hadn't heard until then.  She immediately asked, "You alright?"

I assured her that I was.


A lot of you already know this, but I've been collecting Depeche Mode's work since 1987.  I don't have everything they've ever released (for instance, I haven't gotten the recent album-by-album 12" box sets), but I've been lucky enough to acquire at least one copy of every single, practically every remix, every B-side, etc... plus numerous promo-only releases, T-shirts, posters, and even one of the original tour itineraries from the 1993 Devotional Tour.  I've actually dialed down my obsession since I've had kids, but I'm kind of a "megafan."

With that, though, comes a lot of interweaving between my life and the band's work.  In my late high school years, I was the weird kid who had a lot of their records and wore their T-shirts to school, a black-clothed blip within a sea of country music and Guns and Roses fans.  As the years went on into college and beyond, some people knew me as "you know -- that Depeche Mode guy."  Within the last several years, I even got two tattoos representing their work - artwork from the covers of the "Walking in My Shoes" and "In Your Room" singles - on my upper arms.  Both of those tattoos have very special meanings beyond the band or the music.

And now... Fletch is dead.  He was one of the founding members, and since the mid-90s (when Alan Wilder left), he'd been a third of the group.

As you can guess, the fandom has seen its myriad of expressions of grief.  Many have been sincere and touching; some have been overwrought to the point of comic hyperbole, as if some fans' lives wouldn't be able to go on properly without Fletch out there.  "You were the BEST!," at least one slapped-together image had proclaimed on social media.


And yet... Fletch wasn't "the best."  Not by a long shot.


I'd like you to imagine having enough musical talent and outright luck to be a part of a world-famous electronic band that evolves into a world-famous rock band.  Imagine that you have three bandmates, equally famous.  You all go on stage and perform for thousands upon thousands upon thousands of fans at each concert.  All four of you appear on T-shirts, on posters, on tour announcements, in books, and of course, in the liner photos of every album.

Now, imagine that you know that one member - 25% of your personnel - is a fraud.

Imagine going on stage, playing your heart out on keyboards or drums or guitar, and looking across the stage to see one of your partners, a fellow world-famous "musician," not touching his keyboard most of the time, but instead opting to clap, wave at the audience, and do awkward gestures as if he's truly feeling the energy of the moment without really putting forth that much effort at all.


That "fraud" was Andy Fletcher.

Most of the real fans know that, but a lot of them don't want to admit it.


Fletch was considered the "glue" of the band behind the scenes.  While he originally did have a legitimate musical role in the band, that role became less and less musical as the years went on.  He reportedly handled a lot of the managerial work and did a lot of the business arrangements for the band, and it appeared that in exchange, he got to go on stage and play "rock star" whenever they went on tour.  He still got to be shown in the liner notes, and on the shirts, and on the posters.

As early as the Violator era (1990-1992), I heard rumors that while touring, his mic was always turned off, and that his keyboard was almost always silenced.  (Technically, I heard that on the World Violation Tour, his keyboard was activated for all of three songs.)  While I can't confirm such rumors, I also can't find them too implausible, and as the years went on, I heard more and more reports that Fletch's keyboards were eventually turned completely off during later tours.

He was clapping, and waving, and gesticulating.  That was his role.


In fact... I believe that Fletch was one of the main reasons that Alan Wilder left the band.  Alan was a consummate professional and an extremely accomplished musician, playing not only keyboards but also live drums whenever the band decided to implement them starting in the World Violation tour.  Wilder worked his ass off to make the band's music and performances better, while Fletch did barely anything, but they both were showered with adoration, fame, and money.  If I had been Alan Wilder, I would have been pissed as well.

And then, during the 1994 tour (the "Exotic Tour" or "Summer Tour" depending on which country you were in - basically an extension of the Devotional Tour), Dave was strung out on heroin, the band were in full rock-and-roll debauchery mode, and Fletch ducked out of the tour, reportedly due to "depression."  The dude barely had to do SHIT on stage, and still got to collect a fat paycheck.  But, yeah - tough break.  Amazingly, this was also the first and only tour during which Alan Wilder played live drums for almost the entirety of the concert, so all of those keyboard duties would have needed to go to... Fletch.  Yeah, I guess having to actually do some work when I wasn't used to it would be depressing for me, too.

During those 1994 performances, Fletch was replaced by Daryl Bamonte - a competent keyboardist.

Later on, after Alan left the band, he was eventually replaced by TWO genuine musicians on stage - keyboardist Peter Gordeno and drummer Christian Eigner.  Those two became a part of the band's live ensemble for over two decades, doing actual work while Fletch... clapped and waved.

Fletch did play a big role in the band.  He was part of the image.  His antics did sometimes make things more fun and whimsical.  I will miss seeing him on stage and in promotional materials.  I didn't want the guy to die.  But, to say that he was a tremendous part of the band's musical output and the "best" at anything the band did... well, I just can't agree with that delusional line of thinking.  He was never the band's most valuable member - quite the opposite, actually.


I've heard that Fletch was a hell of a guy - very kind-hearted, a supportive friend, and a lot of fun.  I know that his family, friends, and bandmates are going through a genuine loss, and my best wishes go out to them for peace during this very difficult time.  I truly hope that Fletch was the great person that people said he was, and wherever his spirit is now, I hope that he's finding peace, happiness, and lots of opportunities to smile, wave, and clap.


But, back here on mortal soil... I'm really hoping that Alan Wilder can take the opportunity to rejoin Dave Gahan and Martin Gore for at least one final, hopefully incredible, album.  The fraud is out of the picture.  Alan should come back in and remind the fans how it used to be done.


More soon.


[The site is still forthcoming.  The views and opinions expressed in my posts are mine and mine alone.  No posts on this site, nor any of my posts on social media, should be considered representative of any company for which I work, nor any company for which I've ever worked, nor any company which I own or have owned.  Also, since you're already here reading this:  Don't rent cars from Dollar, Thrifty, or Hertz.  Thanks.]