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Sentimental Gentle Wind Blowing Through My Life Again

Mike Lawson • Perspective • August 30, 2018

On August 31st, solo artist and former Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch would have turned 73. Bob and his wife Wendy were two of my best friends for more than half my life.

I met Bob in 1991 at a music conference in Arizona, where we were on a panel together. I was excited because I was not only a fan, but since I was a kid, he was listed in newspapers as having the same birthday I have, July 31. My first words to Bob, “Hey, we share a birthday!” Bob says, “Oh yeah, when is your birthday?” Thinking he is pulling my leg, I said, “Um, it’s on your birthday!” He says, “No, really, when is your birthday?” I tell him. He pulls me aside and says, “Hey, I used to be really into astrology, and I didn’t want anyone to be able to do my charts, so I told everyone it was July 31.” At first, I was disappointed, but realized it was pretty cool that of all the dates he could have chosen for his fake birthday, he still chose mine.

Bob and Wendy became very close, and I helped with logistics when they moved to Nashville in ‘92. They threw a baby shower for my daughter. Bob was my first co-writer, playing on an album I released. We put out the first “virtual guitar lesson,” a MIDI file from his guitar lick to “Ebony Eyes,” sent on CD-ROM to CompuServe subscribers in 1992. When working at Gibson in the ‘90s, Bob did in-store appearances for me. I was around when he learned that Fleetwood Mac’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame excluded his five-album period. When I published ArtistPro magazine, Bob wrote the back page each issue. I was there when he was wheeled out of his home that horrible day he decided to check out, several months after a failed back surgery that, instead of healing, made his pain so intense, checking out seemed a good idea to him.

Wendy was a dynamo, his rock, business manager, smart, tough, nobody to be messed with, especially if they owed Bob royalties. She spearheaded a lawsuit against Fleetwood Mac and secured payment of a lot of money that had been underpaid over the years, likely contributing to his exclusion from the hall of fame, though without Bob, there may have been no Fleetwood Mac for Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to join. Wendy was also a classically-trained pianist, graduating from the University of Alabama with a music degree. And depending on her mood, Wendy was my sister, aunt, or mama. Sadly, I was also present the day she too was wheeled out of that house two years ago, after helping her into hospice.

Bob released five major label albums, including French Kiss (1977), post Fleetwood Mac. His solo career produced 20 singles, including hits “Hot Love, Cold World,” “Ebony Eyes,” “Precious Love” and the seminal song, “Sentimental Lady,” which first appeared on Fleetwood Mac’s Bare Trees with an extra verse. His Fleetwood Mac albums include Future Games (1971), Bare Trees (1972), Mystery to Me (1973), Penguin (1973) and Heroes Are Hard to Find (1974).

On August 27, Nashville’s Musicians Hall of Fame unveiled an exhibit for Bob’s career, and Belmont formally announced that Wendy bequeathed Bob’s memorabilia and intellectual property to Belmont for the purpose of endowing a scholarship to benefit students of their school of music. I inherited his guitars. I wanted to honor Bob’s legacy by loaning the Gibson ES-345, used on his last three Fleetwood Mac albums, for the tribute. I’m grateful to Musicians Hall of Fame founder Joe Chambers for making this happen. Bob more than earned his place alongside the legends in this museum.

Learn more at musicianshalloffame.com. For more information on Belmont University scholarship opportunities, visit webelieve.belmont.edu.

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