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Elton John Bass Player Dead of Apparent Suicide

Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- Bassist Bob Birch, a longtime member of Elton John's band, has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

According to TMZ, the musician, who was 56 years old, was found dead Wednesday morning "around the corner from his home" in Los Angeles with a gunshot wound to the head.  Police officials report that neither a suicide note nor drugs were found at the scene.

Birch has been playing with John since 1992, and had contributed to many of the pop star's recordings over the years, including his hugely successful Princess Diana tribute single "Candle in the Wind 1997."  The bass player also worked with a wide variety of other music stars, including Eric Clapton, Sting, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Don Henley, Brian Wilson, Phil Collins and Cher, according to Pedulla Bass Guitars, the company whose instruments Birch endorsed.

A message responding to the news of Birch's death has been posted on Elton's website, reading, "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.  We send love and condolences to Michele Birch, and to their son, Jonathan."

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