Bob Welch, the musician whose work with Fleetwood Mac in the early 1970s set the stage of the band's monumental success, has been found dead at his home in Nashville - he was 66-years-old. Welch has described his time with the band as "the bridge era", i.e., their transition from bluesy rock band to commercial powerhouse.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Welch was found at his home on Thursday (June 7, 2012), with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. A spokesman for the Nashville Police Department confirmed that his wife Wendy had said he had been suffering from health issues. Welch was a lesser known musician than the pair of stars who replaced him in the group - Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. His work on the group's early albums 'Future Games', 'Bare Trees' and 'Heroes Are Hard to Find' set the tone for what was to come. He departed the band in 1974, three years before Fleetwood MAC - armed with Nicks and Buckingham - released their acclaimed album 'Rumors'. Speaking after he was excluded from the band's line-up inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, Welch told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "It was a transition. But it was an important period in the history of the band. Mick Fleetwood dedicated a whole chapter of his biography to my era of the band and credited me with 'saving Fleetwood MAC.' Now they want to write me out of the history of the group".

Bob went on to land success with his 1977 hit record 'Ebony Eyes', though his next five studio albums failed to gain similar acclaim.