Elton John has paid tribute to his longtime bass player Robert Wayne Birch, who was found dead at his home yesterday.
Writing on his website, the singer said he “cannot find the words to describe this tragic death”.
“I am devastated and shocked at the loss of my friend and fellow musician, Bob Birch,” he wrote. “My heart goes out to Bob’s wife Michele, his son Jonathan and his family. To me Bob was family. He had been a member of my band for 20 years; we played over 1400 concerts together. He was one of the greatest musicians I have ever worked with, and in all our years on the road he never played or sang a bad note.”
Birch’s body was discovered yesterday morning (August 15) around the corner from his home in Los Angeles. It is thought he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, although police have yet to confirm this. He was 56.
According to the BBC, Los Angeles County Assistant Coroner Chief Ed Winter has said that Birch’s death is being ”investigated as a possible suicide”, although no suicide note has been discovered as yet.
Birch began playing live with Elton John in 1992 and has contributed bass parts to a large chunk of the singer’s recent recorded output, including his acclaimed 1995 album ‘Made In England’ and 2004’s ‘Peachtree Road’.
He also played live and recorded with a swathe of artists during his career, including Brian Wilson, Sheryl Crow, Courtney Love, Rufus Wainwright and Stevie Wonder.
Birch is survived by his wife, Michele, and a son, Jonathan.