Switchfoot Announces Departure of Guitarist Drew Shirley

Switchfoot at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA. 02-13-11 (Credit: s_bukley/Shutterstock)

Grammy Award-winning rock band Switchfoot made a difficult announcement this week.

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The popular Christian band from San Diego, California said on Monday one of their members has left, devastating many fans.

“Friends, there’s no easy way to say this,” the message from lead singer Jon Foreman, Tim Forman, Chad Butler, and Jerome Fontamillas began.

“After years of sharing the road, Drew [Shirley] and the band have decided to take different paths, and will be parting ways,” Switchfoot said.

“He joined us shortly after the release of our 4th album and we’ve shared an incredible journey, full of countless highs and lows together. We love Drew dearly, and we are so thankful for the time and memories we have had. This has certainly been a difficult season for us, encountering challenges that have ultimately taken us in different directions,” they said.

“We have always said that our friendships are more important than the band. And it’s still true: our love for each other is so much bigger than rock and roll,” Switchfoot said. “We are excited to see what the next chapter holds for Drew, and also for Switchfoot. We are beyond thankful for the support that all of you have shown us during this challenging time and we remain committed to this community, each other, and to the journey we share together. More now than ever before, hope deserves an anthem.”

The band concluded, “Drew: we are fans, friends and brothers for life.”

Fans were quick to post their memories of Shirley.

“This made me tear up!” one fan, Stephanie Dotzler, wrote. “I first met Drew at my first Switchfoot concert in Tempe, AZ! Sixteen years later, in Fremont, NE, who is waiting at the front door to get to the Switchfoot concert, Drew! I was so nervous, but wanted a picture with him. Thank you for your amazing work over the years! Praying for you and will be missing you! God bless you, Drew, and Switchfoot!”

Another fan, Taylor Cantrell, said he met Shirley in 2010 as part of the Friends of the Foot.

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“I got to meet you guys for what must have been the 5th time by then, and Drew remembered me from the last meet and greet. It’s been such an incredible experience seeing his influence on the band being a fan since NWTBH. Nothing is Sound, Oh! Gravity… the influence of his sound was tangible and real and his story as a member of Switchfoot is also a big part of the Switchfoot story as a whole. Sometimes, the best stories have you experiencing loss, and in this case, it’s not a loss, so much as just a ‘see you around’,” Cantrell wrote. “Thanks for all the jams Drew!”

Cassie Hollingsworth added, “I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the guys multiple times and meeting them a couple times, and this makes me so incredibly sad. Drew is part of our Switchfam, and it won’t be the same without him…I’m just devastated to see him go.”

Foreman tweeted Wednesday about the outpouring of love from fans.

“Wow. This is a really sad day for us, y’all,” he said. “Thanks for all the kind words about drew. He remains one of my favorite guitar players, and one of my favorite people. He is irreplaceable and will be dearly missed.”

Caleb Parke is the managing editor for ToddStarnes.com. Follow him on GETTRTwitterFacebookInstagram, and connect with him at calebparke.com.