Bassist Birch in apparent suicide
Session bassist Bob Birch has died suddenly, with reports suggesting he shot himself, at the age of 56.
The musician was mainly known for being part of Elton John’s band since 1992, but he’d also worked with Eric Clapton, BB King, Sting and many others.
Los Angeles Coroner’s office said in a statement that Birch was found at his home in San Fernando Valley on Wednesday afternoon with a gunshot wound to the head.
Police are investigating the incident as a possible suicide.
A tribute on Elton John’s website says: “We are very sad to report the sudden death of Bob Birch. Bob had been a member of the band since 1992, the longest-serving bassist in Elton’s touring band.”
The musician started out playing alto sax and won several school orchestra awards before taking up bass. He joined a jazz band in Los Angeles in 1981. He later collaborated with keyboardist Guy Babylon, who introduced him to the Elton John band as they were setting themselves up as Warpipes in 1989. That led to his long-time gig with John.
In the 1990s he performed with Keith Emerson, Steve Porcaro, Glenn Hughes, Ronnie Montrose and David Coverdale. As a result of John’s double-header tours with Billy Joel, Birch became a mainstay of early Rock & Roll Fantasy Camps, working alongside Leslie West, Nils Lofgren and Lou Gramm.
He played on BB King’s 2005 album 80 and had collaborated with Eric Clapton, Brian May, Bryan Adams, Tina Turner, Sting, Little Richard, Gregg Allman and dozens of other big names.
Birch is survived by wife Michelle and son Jonathan.