Elton John has issued a statement on the death of his longtime bassist Robert Wayne "Bob" Birch.
Birch died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was found in his Los Angeles home on Friday. TMZ.com reports that the Los Angeles police department is investigating the death as a "possible suicide."
"I am devastated and shocked at the loss of my friend and fellow musician, Bob Birch," John said in a statement posted on his website. "My heart goes out to Bob's wife Michele, his son Jonathan and his family."
Various sources report that there was no suicide note left at the scene and that there were no signs of excessive drug or alcohol use.
Birch has been touring and recording with Elton since the 1990s. He had also toured with B.B. King, Keith Emerson, Corinne Bailey Rae and Steve Archer. The bassist appeared on several Elton's albums including 1995's Made in England, 1997's Big Picture, 2004's Peachtree Road and 2006's The Captain and the Kid.
"To me Bob was family," John added in his statement. "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."
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