Sir Elton John has been left "devastated and shocked" after his bass player Robert Wayne Birch was found dead in his apartment with a gunshot wound to the head. The case is being investigated as a possible suicide, according to Los Angeles Assistant Coroner Chief, Ed Winter.
In a statement , Elton - who has been playing with Birch since 1992 - said, "My heart goes out to Bob's wife Michele, his son Jonathan and his family". The 56-year-old has played on four of Elton's albums, as well as the 1997 reworking of 'Candle in the Wind'. A skilled musician who also played the saxophone, Birch spent most of the last 20 years touring with Sir Elton, though also collaborated with the likes of Eric Clapton, Bb King, Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner. In the statement on his website, Elton paid tribute to Birch's musicianship, saying, "He had been a member of my band for 20 years; we played over 1,400 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.I cannot find the words to describe this tragic death, and how much I loved him. May he rest in peace".
According to Tmz.com, police did not find a suicide note at the scene and there were no apparent signs of drug use. Birch is survived by his wife Michele and a son Jonathan.