Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Bob Welch’s death another loss for rock and roll

It’s hard to believe there ever was a time when teenagers were allowed to hang out at malls, but in the 1970s, my friends and I would do it.

The cover of Bob Welch’s album “French Kiss.” It got a lot of attention in the 1970s and was prominently displayed in record stores.

On Friday and Saturday nights, we’d walk over to the Queens Center Mall at the intersection of Woodhaven and Queens Boulevards. Forget the bus, we were young and energetic, and we’d either walk down Eliot Avenue past Resurrection-Ascension School (aka R.A., home of the famous bazaars that made Our Lady of Hope’s look like a backstreet carnival) and go under the trestle, past the bus and subway stops and brave the dangerous crossings; or we’d take the “shortcut” that was the pedestrian bridge over the tracks.

We’d walk around the mall, check out the girls, go to the record store on the third level and then stop at Dunkin’ Donuts and have soda and doughnuts while talking about the girls we’d approach, if we only had the guts. As we got older, we dubbed DD “Drunkin’ Donuts,” because that’s how we ended up some nights in those wonderful days before laws against underage drinking weren’t enforced so rigidly and obsessively.

I was somewhere around 15 to 17 when we had those nights, and they’re gone forever.

One thing I remember was the album “French Kiss” by Bob Welch. That cover caused some controversy with its woman wearing a dress with a very high slit, and the title itself. For a 16-year-old who had never dated a girl, it was a hint of greater treasures that weren’t found for years. And the music was pretty cool.

I heard the news that Bob Welch had committed suicide after hearing that his health was never going to get better, and felt so sad for his wife. Some stories said he didn’t want to be a burden, but I bet that if he had announced that he was not in good condition, there would have been an outpouring of love and money that would have sustained him for a while longer.

The cover of “Three Hearts” by Bob Welch.

He had played with Fleetwood Mac, a band that went through guitarists like my cats go though canned Little Friskies, and left just before the arrival of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, and the awesome triumph of their two albums, “Fleetwood Mac” and “Rumours,” in the mid- to late-1970s. More than thirty years ago. Hard to believe.

He went solo, and had big hits with “Ebony Eyes” and “Sentimental Lady” off “French Kiss.” Then he put out another solo album, “Three Hearts,” and the song “Precious Love.” See a video of a show from 1979 here, with him cavorting around four beautiful dancing women and lip-synching, but it’s such an upbeat and happy song. I’d prefer to remember Bob Welch that way, not shooting himself in despair.

“Precious Love” is pretty disco-y, but it’s still got a rock beat, and while the youth of today might not dig it, my generation does. Deal with it, young ‘uns!

I have “Ebony Eyes” and “Sentimental Lady” on my iPhone, and probably will add “Precious Love” one of these days.

Bob Welch was not a big name in music, and his later albums were flops, but in the late 1970s, his music was the soundtrack of my teenage years.

When it was good, it was so good that hearing the songs today brings back a flood of memories and sadness at his death.

Thank you, Bob Welch, for the great music, and best wishes to your family.

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June 10, 2012 - Posted by | Life lessons, Living in the modern age | , , , , , , , ,

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