It was a minor sensation in 1981 when Depeche Mode’s debut album Speak

Sure, there had been Gary Numan before, also Human League, of course Kraftwerk, and yet the songs on “Speak

Also present on the synthesizers and also as an accompanying singer: Andrew John Fletcher, who died at the age of 60 and was born in Nottingham in 1961, later only called “Fletch” for short.

Fletcher went to school with Vince Clark and formed the group No Romance in China with him, then another band and finally with Dave Gahan and Martin Gore Depeche Mode, the very band that is still filling stadiums forty years later. And who was Vince Clark again? Exactly: He is the key figure behind “Speak

As a result, Gahan and Gore should mainly determine the fortunes of Depeche Mode. But Fletcher was the one who kept the band together, especially after interim bandmate Alan Wilder left Depeche Mode.

Although Andy Fletcher didn’t write any songs himself, he was immensely important to the band’s chemistry, precisely in mediating between the ever-expanding egos of Gore and Gahan. On top of that, Fletcher stayed down to earth and in England and his two band mates moved to the States for love. Which didn’t make the relationship and communication between the musicians any easier.

As Dave Gahan and Martin Gore wrote when they took to social media to announce the death of their keyboard player: “Fletch had a true heart of gold and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh or a cold pint . Our hearts are with his family and we ask that you think of them and respect their privacy at this difficult time.”

What is unknown is what caused Andrew Fletcher to die, and whether Gore and Gahan were aware of their colleague’s possible life-threatening illness. Because of course the question now arises as to how Depeche Mode will continue, precisely because Fletcher was so indispensable for the nature of this band. Will they take a cue from the Rolling Stones, who are still touring despite the death of Charlie Watts?

Or will Gore and Gahan, who has been releasing solo albums from time to time in recent years, drop it now? It would be a shame, because live Depeche Mode, like the Stones, are still in a class of their own.