06/08/2012 at 04:20 PM EDT
Fearing that spinal surgery would leave him an invalid needing constant care, Bob Welch told his wife in a suicide note: "I'm not going to do this to you," according to a friend.
The body of the former Fleetwood Mac member and successful solo artist was found in his Nashville home Thursday
by his wife Wendy. The musician, 65, had shot himself in the chest, police say.
Family friend Bart Herbison, executive director of the National Songwriters Association, says Welch underwent spinal surgery about three months ago, The Tennessean reports
"It had become apparent to Bob that he was not going to recover, that he was going to become an invalid," Herbison says. "He had seen his father become an invalid and watched his mother care for him for many years."
A member of Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to 1974, Welch had solo hits with "Sentimental Lady" and "Ebony Eyes."