Andrew Fletcher: 1961-2022

andy fletcher depeche mode monktone
Depeche Mode 1983 [L-R]: Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder

Yesterday afternoon, I was doing my usual scanning of the Steve Hoffman Music Forums to see what was happening in music after I had already written a lunchtime post, and I saw that Andrew Fletcher of Depeche Mode had died at the weirdly young age of 60! Normally in Rock, death occurs far earlier, or somewhat later. This seemed to be shocking in its rude abruptness.

depeche mode see you cover art

I was early on the Depeche Mode train when “Speak + Spell” was released in an American edition that had some juggling of material from the UK edition. It felt a bit flat to these ears, and once main writer Vince Clarke quickly left the band, I bought the first post-Clarke single, “See You” and found it to have more appealing writing, with a winning, minor key melancholy replacing somewhat brash Synthpop. When “A Broken Frame” was released, I felt it was a quantum leap forward for the band. After that album, Alan Wilder joined the band and made them a quartet again.

From that point onward, I tried to buy the occasional 12″ single and the albums. I thought that “Construction Time Again” was a bit of a flat, transitional album. I was more into “Some Great Reward,” actually. The band finally managed to have a US hit when “People Are People” managed to climb to thirteen in the US chart. But they were unable to follow it with another hit for a few years. In 1985, I lost a lot of Depeche Mode LPs and 12″ singles in the Great Vinyl Purge. I assumed at the time that I would be replacing all of it on the new silver discs in the coming years.

For some reason, I didn’t buy “Black Celebration,” which would have been the first DM album out in the CD era, and surprisingly for a UK band of their vintage, it was not the typically weak first album out on CD format for the first time. Unlike with OMD, Ultravox, Psychedelic Furs, Heaven 17, Human League and probably a few more I’ve forgotten. But the next year, I did buy “Music For The Masses,” which showed the band gaining a US following, but nothing like their German fandom, which had begun to skyrocket by the late 80s. Leading to their singles all being re-issued on CD-5 thanks to the German Intercord label, and I bought all I came across.

That tour saw the band touring America and, thanks to KROQ -FM and the like, playing the Rose Bowl to 65,000 fans in a “this-can’t-be-happening-in-America” phenomenon. Especially at the peak of Hair-Metal. This resulted in their live “101” album and film of the same name. I saw the movie at The Enzian; Orlando’s art cinema, but I never bought the album. I couldn;’t see the point of hearing Depeche Mode live in a stadium. Though I had been a fan since 1981, it would be a few more years before I would finally see Depeche Mode live as they were among the last acts I liked to discover the southeastern corner of America.

Two years later a new single appeared and I recall buying it at a record show in Tampa. “Personal Jesus” was the line in the sand crossed with Depeche Mode finally having a guitar [a dobro!] in the mix in an earth-shaking musical event. I remember buying one of the UK import CD singles, but soon bought the US edition, which had all of the eight tracks that were across both UK import CD singles at a fraction of the cost. The “Violator” album was a heck of a campaign. Four singles over more than a year with “Enjoy The Silence” going Top 10 in America as the band peaked commercially here.

Such that I was able to finally see the band after ten years of fandom as they played the 18,000 seat Orlando Arena. A bit of a non-event! At least I got to see Nitzer Ebb a second time opening up. Though they were much more effective in a club. Which was where I should have seen Depeche Mode in 1983-ish. But that didn’t happen.

Following “Violator” the band went on a hiatus as they had been traveling the world. The next song they proffered was “Death’s Door.” and acoustic [!] number on the soundtrack to Wim Winders’ “Bis Ans Ende Der Welt” soundtrack. Which was not just Depeche Mode, but scads of artists I liked. And all of it was great music. I bought that as a German import a year or two before it came out in America and was thus spared the U2 track on that edition. And after that it wa sanother two years before Depeche Mode would manifest again.

It was spring of 1993 when Depeche Mode released their next album. One of the last things I remember seeing on MTV before I stopped subscribing to cable and even watching TV that year was the world premiere video of Depeche Mode’s “Walking In My Shoes.” It did zilch for me. It was at that point where I stopped buying any Depeche Mode music. But it was more than just Depeche Mode. I stopped buying Erasure and Pet Shop Boys as well. All of the Synthpop acts that had been hanging on cut cut off by me. The later two bands were shut down due to the dull, soulless House Music remixes on the costly import CD singles I was buying and not enjoying. So at least I never heard any Depeche Mode remixes past the “Violator” album, which I probably would have hated as well!

My Depeche Mode purchases in the last 30 years have been down to two items. The 1998 DVD of music videos, which I bought for old time’s sake, and the 2006 “Best Of Depeche Mode Vol. 1” CD/DVD package which I found at a thrift store and took a chance on. The DVD has some of the pre-1986 clips as well as videos from after the 1998 period. There were songs from the new century on it as well, so I wondered if Depeche Mode had been able to pull their fat out of the fire. It’s funny, just last week I was listening to that CD for the second time and deciding that, no, they hadn’t. All of the post-“Violator” material was of no interest to me. Hearing it was indicative of all of the perils of the modern “electronic music” era. Where loops were manipulated in software to create the tracks which were terribly boring. Unlike anything from their first 10-12 years.

So suffice to say I’m not invested any longer in Depeche Mode. I haven’t been for 30 years, but the band managed to actually fill stadia in America, and even got inducted into the Rock + Roll Hall of Fame’s 2020 Class. Their influence casts a long shadow over the somewhat risible concept of “stadium electronica.” They are now enshrined in the American Rock pantheon in a way that would have been inconceivable 41 years ago. And outside of America, they are the Pink Floyd of their generation. Morose and atmospheric, they are wildly popular in European countries where their aspirational Eastern Bloc aesthetics were taken at face value by young people in Germany, Estonia, and Russia who looked to them as kindred spirits.

Fletcher’s only extracurricular activity from the band that I can find was his stewardship of the Toast Hawaii label. It was active from 2002 to 2006. Toast Hawaii only ever signed one band, but that band was Clieиt; Kate Holms’ post-Frazier Chorus electro project, where Fletcher would sometimes get involved with mix and production as well as writing the checks. So I have quite a few of the Toast Hawaii releases, before Clieиt left the label in 2006 for Holme’s own Loser Friendly records label.

And through it all, with solo albums, stadium world tours, Mute subsidiary labels, and the drama of drug rehab, they’ve managed to stick together and release seven studio albums in the 29 years I’ve not bothered. That’s almost twice as many studio albums as The Rolling Stones in the same period! So they are doing something right. The fact that Andy Fletcher, who doesn’t write any of the material but was reputed to be the member of the group that looked after the business side of things meant that he was the member looking after the practical aspects of being a world-class band. And thus made this journey possible for Depeche Mode. Who in turn, undoubtedly appreciated their boyhood friend sticking with them for so long and balancing the energies in the group.

I can only wonder if the band will continue with just Gore and Gahan at this point or not. Martin writes the songs and occasionally sings them as well. Dave is the lead singer. There’s nothing to stop them from hiring another pair of hands to fill out any studio work and the requisite live performances. Which means almost nothing in this era of digital workstations that can do everything but press “play” in this modern era. But I wonder if their hearts will be in it when they only sense the void of the affable Fletcher in their environs. Tonight is a good night to play some Depeche Mode tracks you might not have heard for a long time in Fletch’s memory. Condolences to his friends and family who must be reeling


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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18 Responses to Andrew Fletcher: 1961-2022

  1. djjedredy says:

    A succinct review from a fan of the early stuff. Like many it was difficult to get into the later stuff. Playing the Angel and Spirit still worth a listen for an electronic fix. Rest In Peace Fletch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim says:

    I feel like you wrote more of an obiturary for the band and a time that they had a certain sound more than an obituary for the man. Truth be told at the peak of my fandom for DM I never really know what he did, sorta like the Bez of Depeche Mode but instead of dancing with maracas they had him stand behind a keyboard which could have been an adding machine or a press kit or I dunno, what did he do? I can’t tell you what he did or like a great contribution, he was a satellite to a band that we liked at a certain time in our collective biographies. First “the sound” that we liked died and now the people that made ”the sound” are dying, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Well, this was about my relationship to DM. Fletcher’s function within the band was subtle, from the outside. And unknowable from our perspective. More is coming to light as to how he functioned as administrator and social stabilizer within the band’s dynamic. Which is why they could just decide to go solo at this point and no one would bat an eyelash… except for the enormous financial value of their brand. I would venture that fact makes it unlikely.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Was always a fan, but didn’t “act” on it until the Black Celebration era, then went all in with Music For The Masses, at that point going backward and picking up all the albums and a few of the 12″ that I could find. After Songs Of Faith And Devotion I lost interest in the band, but always enjoyed hearing them. Heard some stuff off of Sounds Of The Universe and liked it, then picked up Delta Machine and that was when I finally got to see them live. They were absolutely fantastic. From everything that I’ve read, Andy was the glue that held them together, so I don’t see them carrying on as Depeche Mode. Well, unless Alan Wilder wants to come back (ha).

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      postpostmoderndad – I only got a copy of “Black Celebration” in 2006, when I was doing a lot of trading on La-La. It was sweet trading CDs that I didn’t want for titles I really weanted for only a buck! I finally got copies of the DM and Siouxsie + The Banshees CDs I never had during that wonderful period. But for almost 20 years, all I had were the German CD singles from that album! And I forgot to mentiont that I sold off all my DM CD singles and rarities in 2013 to fund much music travel during that year. Worth it! Boy those German fans wanted that stuff badly!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. JT says:

    As you know, Monk, I was a *rabid* DM fan from about 1983 to about 1990. Then, almost over night, I just…. stopped caring. Interesting how many of us lost interest after Faith and Devotion. Guess that album made us all lose our faith and devotion for this band. But let’s be honest: that’s also when Wilder left. The songs may have been Gore, and the front-man may have been Gahan, but it was what Wilder brought to the band that made them interesting. He was the magic.

    Anyway, my complete DM collection stops after Violator. I’ve never heard any of the post-Wilder albums, so this week I did some research. I looked up about ten “listicles” discussing the “best” DM albums. Using a point system (sort of like ranked-choice voting), I created a chart to develop a consensus as to which ones consistently rated highly. The point values below won’t mean anything to readers of this post, but they’re the distillation of ten random writers’ perspectives on these records.

    Playing the Angel: 34
    Ultra: 33
    Spirit: 23
    Sounds of the Universe: 19
    Delta Machine: 18
    Exciter: 13

    So I’m listening to Playing the Angel this week, and – for the first time in decades – giving Faith and Devotion another chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – Until this week, I had no idea how many DM albums came after “Violator” or even what their names might be! Good luck! I think you hit the nail on the head regarding Wilder, but I think he was still on “Faith + Devotion” when I looked into it this week. All I ever heard was the “Walking In My Shoes” single. So dreary. Not a million miles away from the vibe of “Never Let Me Down Again” yet somehow, worlds apart from the energy of that song.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. negative1ne says:

    hi mr monk,

    its very sad news that has resonated in the music community,
    and especially the alternative and new wave bands, all having
    a say with their contemporaries.

    depeche mode shaped my musical tastes, starting in 82-83,
    with people are people, and master and servant. i worked
    backwards through their albums, and enjoyed all of them.

    i was able to see them live a couple of times. and the black
    celebration era, was was the last where i kept up with them.
    they had a ton of releases at this point, so tracking down
    all the 12 inch singles, and the newer cd singles made it
    interesting. only now am i going back in filling in the gaps
    with the 7 inches too.

    i think andrew fletcher might have been the quiet one in
    the band. not flashy, and not attracting attention, but still
    crucial to their music and presentation. if i may, they reminded
    me of kraftwerk, where each member were essential but not
    necessarily known.

    i didn’t care for music for the masses, which pretty much
    stated their intent. i liked the singles and mixes, but overall
    it was a huge watered step down for them. i did keep up
    with them afterwards because of the singles, but only
    just got most of the recent albums in the last year or two.
    playing the angel was kind of a return to form.

    sometimes bands know when to end it, but others
    continue onwards. i know their music will live on
    forever, so fletchers legacy will live on.



    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – Bands need stable members like Fletcher to last for as long as they have. You know you’ve turned the corner on collecitng a band when you need the 7″ singles. Back in the 80s I tended to ignore them; 12″ers had better sound and more tracks, but the last 20 years has taught me that there’s lots of unique material on the 7″ variation that needs to be in house!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. slur says:

    Without discussing the different phases of their career I must admit I found it really remarkable that of all the early 80 Bands they made such an incredible career and gained such a mass appeal.

    If there will be anything more than archive releases fortcoming is now the big question even if it’s clear that Gahan / Gore are the hearts, faces and voices of DM. The point of keeping on for the cashflow is imho out of question, they could have stopped years ago.

    What an incredible life he had, even as the less popular member. RIP


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Slur – I hear you. Of all of the New Wave bands out there, that DM were one that became a stadium band was a head-scratcher to me. At least their version of Stadium Rock was more palatable then Simple Minds’!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jordan says:

    DM played a large part in my musical upbringing. I probably listen to them consistently more than other act of that era and style. New Order would be next in line.

    I had purchased Speak and Spell upon release but even then it was too lightweight and pop for my tastes. However when Leave in Silence came out on 12” , I felt it was a different band and that was due to Martin’s writing.

    I collected all their music from then on up until and including Exciter and enjoyed everyone of those titles. I still own them. After that I lost interest. Like Monk I only bought the 12” ( LP and EP) and then CD. Never bought one 7” for some reason.

    I saw them live 10-12 times from 84 onwards being in North America. The Songs of Faith and Devotion tour being the absolute highlight for me. It was very influential on my career.

    It was always a bit baffling to me that with their moody electronic music and alternative image, that they became a stadium act. Certainly the largest act out of all their peers.

    I was never really sure what Fletch did however he seemed to be an integral part of the band. Not from the composition of songs or even live ( though he clearly did play live) but as one of the gang who was there from the start.

    Will DM continue? I would not see them live again and most likely would not buy any new material from them. Yes, I think they could continue on as Fletch was not part of the creative process. So another record. Sure. However as previously mentioned, would Martin and Dave really want to record or tour? Are their hearts into it anymore. Dave has his solo projects as well as Martin. They certainly do not need the money. But you cannot underestimate the business machine that the DM brand means to so many employed by them. Record labels. Studios. Managers. Live sound. Etc.

    So I think they could release one more album with one final tour. Will they ? Who knows.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Jordan – Well, I think that both Depeche Mode and The Cure were neck-and-neck for Stadium New Wavecareers. I can’t really say that one got bigger than the other. Both were enormously popular. And they both ascended that final step in ’89-’90, with US Top 10 hits and very successful albums that capped on growth that had been building organically for years. I can be said to have collected both acts until the same time too. The 1991-1993 period where I hit a brick wall on many artists I formerly collected. Not coincidentally, this was when my focus diverted from contemporary music that sounded mediocre to my ears to look backward at earlier, thrilling music I had missed. This was down to finally hearing Associates in 1990; a pivotal moment in my musical development and the seeds of my Post-Punk Monk persona.


      • Tim says:

        DM really was a dark horse for the stadium thing.
        Music for the Masses…..was a big letdown and they really should have crashed and burned after that and then they pulled off Violator. 101 was pre-Violator, was it not? Amazing that they pulled that off, they were basically touring on MftM (ie promoting a weak album) with a solid, solid back catalog of music that really isn’t stadium music at all.


  8. Similar to the PPM and others here, my DM collection began with their very earliest stuff and finally ended when they went fully mainstream, though I did also see the 101 film and was at the show they did in Orlando alongside the Monk.

    There’s a number of songs from them I still enjoy, but by the time “Personal Jesus” came along I knew they had locked into a particular style — radio-friendly goth — that I had no interest in anymore. They had decided (like other bands before them) a business rather than a musical adventure. As for Andy, his enigmatic role in the group made him my favourite after Alan Wilder. Gore and Gahan were incredibly lucky to find someone like him who could act as a benevolent manager and keep the band together through the endless trips to rehab and other excesses, but to give them credit where it’s due, they knew how lucky they were to have him.

    I think I still have the box sets of the DM singles, and I still value those pre-superstar albums, but I think it was the repetition and formulaic-ness of their later efforts (when I would drop in for a sample) that made me lose interest — they’d stopped growing, and were just milking that cow for all it was worth. Perhaps their most recent efforts have been different, I haven’t had a listen to anything new in over a decade, but … it’s the U2 story all over again as far as I’m concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – I remember seeing “101” at The Enzian. Did we see it together? I went with some friends – not sure exactly who. Ah, yes, those DM single boxes! I remember when the Japanese editions were the first ones released, but they were prohibitively expensive, naturally.
      depeche mode X1 box
      As I had already invested $10-$15 for all of those French and German single reissued on CD5, I was not going to re-buy those Japanese boxes or even the surprising American boxes that you had gotten.
      depeche mode singles 1-6

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tim says:

        I bought the first two Japanese boxes back when I had a fetish for anything deluxified that came out of Japan. Sold for a nice markup around 2003.

        Liked by 1 person

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – “…a fetish for anything deluxified that came out of Japan.” As well you should have! The Japanese invented the BSOG as far as I’m concerned. I still treasure my Gary Numan Japanese “Asylum 1-2-3” sets that Alfa released in 1990. Supafine!


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