Bob Welch, a former member of Fleetwood Mac who went on to write songs and record several hits during a solo career, committed suicide at his Tennessee home, police said.
Police spokesman Don Aaron said Welch's wife Wendy found him with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest at their south Nashville home yesterday.
Mr Aaron said Welch, 65, apparently had recent health issues. He said a suicide note was left.
Bart Herbison, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association, quoted Wendy Welch as saying Welch had spinal surgery three months ago, doctors told him he would not get better and he did not want her to have to care for an invalid.
The couple had no children.
Welch was a guitarist and vocalist for Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to 1974.
He formed the British rock group Paris in 1976 and had hits including Sentimental Lady in 1977 and Ebony Eyes in 1978. Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham did back-up vocals on Sentimental Lady.
Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks said Welch's death hit her hard. "The death of Bob Welch is devastating ... I had many great times with him after Lindsey and I joined Fleetwood Mac. He was an amazing guitar player - he was funny, sweet - and he was smart. I am so very sorry for his family and for the family of Fleetwood Mac - so, so sad ..."
As a songwriter, Welch had his songs recorded by Kenny Rogers, Sammy Hagar, the Pointer Sisters and others.
In an interview with The Tennessean in 2003, Welch said he never dreamed he'd be remembered for much. "I just wanted to play guitar in a good band," he said. "I wanted to make the music I love. I wanted to travel the world and have adventures."