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Bob Birch, the longtime bassist for Elton John’s backing band, died this morning (August 15), John’s official website confirms. He was 56.

A statement reads: “We are very sad to report the sudden death today of Bob Birch, Elton’s bass player and backing vocalist, in Los Angeles. Bob had been a member of the Elton John band since 1992, the longest-serving bassist in Elton’s touring band.”

John’s site did not reveal the cause of death. Authorities at the Los Angeles County Police Department confirmed Birch’s death to CBS Local, but could not confirm the cause of death until a coroner’s report has been completed. Many outlets are reporting a self-inflicted gunshot wound in an apparent suicide.

Birch had played with John on the road and in the studio since 1992, as well as a myriad of other superstar acts including Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Cher, Sting and many more. Birch, also a saxophonist, performed on John’s most recent tours, and as recently as last year, appeared alongside Elton and Leon Russell on the Late Show With David Letterman.

Birch, born Robert Wayne Birch in Detroit, is survived by his wife, Michelle, and his son, Jonathan.

– Jillian Mapes, CBS Local


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