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Olivia Newton-John First Fiancé Was Found Slowly Dying from Pills Days after Their Break-Up

Akhona Zungu
Aug 11, 2022
11:49 A.M.

Olivia Newton-John was happily married to her second husband, John Easterling, but her love life hasn't always been like this. Following her first relationship with the musician Bruce Welch, his life almost ended tragically.

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On August 8, 2022, John Easterling announced the passing of Olivia Newton-John via her Instagram account. Details of the cause of her death remain unknown; however, the long-time singer is known to have had a lengthy battle with cancer.

The "Grease" costar had a tumultuous relationship with the musician Bruce Welch years before her breakthrough in the musical film. The pair were together for five years and even became engaged.

Olivia Newton-John attends The Build Series Presents Olivia Newton-John, on October 3, 2016 in New York City. On the right: Olivian Newton-John with former boyfriend Patrick McDermott, below her first boyfriend Bruce Welch | Source: Getty Images

Olivia Newton-John attends The Build Series Presents Olivia Newton-John, on October 3, 2016 in New York City. On the right: Olivian Newton-John with former boyfriend Patrick McDermott, below her first boyfriend Bruce Welch | Source: Getty Images

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However, Newton-John began her career as a singer and actress, and their relationship became strained. When the actress broke up with him, he lost the will to live.

BRUCE WELCH AND OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN'S RELATIONSHIP

The talented British singer and actress Olivia Newton-John emigrated to Australia with her family when she was a child. At 16, she won a talent show called "Sing, Sing, Sing."

Bruce Welch speaking on the telephone as Olivia Newton-John stands to the side in a recording studio in 1972 | Source: Getty Images

Bruce Welch speaking on the telephone as Olivia Newton-John stands to the side in a recording studio in 1972 | Source: Getty Images

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The prize for the winner was a trip to England. Newton-John went back to her homeland and got a great offer — a deal to her debut, "Till You Say You'll Be Mine."

At this time, she met the guitarist of the rock band The Shadows, English Bruce Welch, and they began a relationship. He nostalgically recalled the first time he was smitten by her saying:

“She was absolutely stunning. She was 17 and was the support act when we did a week in Bournemouth. Her and her partner Pat were a double act... two girls singing together in harmony.”

Olivia Newton-John with her ex-fiance Bruce Welch of The Shadows, at their former home in Hertforshire in 1970 | Source: Getty Images

Olivia Newton-John with her ex-fiance Bruce Welch of The Shadows, at their former home in Hertforshire in 1970 | Source: Getty Images

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Like Olivia, Bruce also became a cancer patient in 2000. As a cancer survivor, Newton-John supported him in his battle with prostate cancer and encouraged him to fight. Welch expressed his remaining affections for Olivia in 2019, telling Mirror that:

“She’ll always be Livvy to me.”

Australian actress Olivia Newton-John with her musical accompanist Bruce Welch of the Shadows., circa 1975. | Source: Getty Images

Australian actress Olivia Newton-John with her musical accompanist Bruce Welch of the Shadows., circa 1975. | Source: Getty Images

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The former couple got engaged in 1968 when she was 17. Newton-John was focused on her career as a singer, and with a fixture in the British music scene, she landed another deal, this time for a full album titled "If Not For You."

The title track, a Bob Dylan cover, became a massive success in 1971 and reached both UK and US charts. As her career was taking off, Welch was already a big star in Britain. In the 1970s, The Shadows had already scored five number one hits in the UK.

Olivia Newton-John with Bruce Welch of The Shadows, at their home in Hadley Common, Hertforshire, June 1970. | Source: Getty Images

Olivia Newton-John with Bruce Welch of The Shadows, at their home in Hadley Common, Hertforshire, June 1970. | Source: Getty Images

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Newton-John broke off her engagement with Welch in 1972 amid rumors that she was seeing someone else, and she decided to move to LA to pursue a career as an actress. The guitarist grew devastated and attempted suicide. Luckily, he survived. He told an interviewer in 2004:

“I told everyone that I was going away for the weekend and not to bother calling me, but I forgot about the window cleaner. He found me on Tuesday... I had taken the pills on Sunday.”

Bruce Welch holding "The Shadows" 1959 Fender Stratocaster, played by Hank Marvin and owned by Bruce Welch in the UK in 1997 | Source: Getty Images

Bruce Welch holding "The Shadows" 1959 Fender Stratocaster, played by Hank Marvin and owned by Bruce Welch in the UK in 1997 | Source: Getty Images

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However, despite their fallout in 1972, the pair remained on friendly terms after Welch attempted to take his life.

WHAT HAPPENED TO BRUCE WELCH?

With Olivia's beauty attracting numerous admirers, Welch felt he should marry her. After dealing with his difficult break-up, Bruce moved on with his life and continued to play for The Shadows for decades.

In his life, he married twice. His second marriage in 1979 ended in divorce nine years later. Apart from his prostate cancer diagnosis in 2000, Welch also had heart problems in 2011, through which his long-time friend, Olivia, supported him.

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 Cliff Richard performs Bruce Welch (left) and Hank Marvin (right) of the Shadows rehearsing at the Theatre Royal London. | Source: Getty Images

Cliff Richard performs Bruce Welch (left) and Hank Marvin (right) of the Shadows rehearsing at the Theatre Royal London. | Source: Getty Images

To the Mirror, he described her as "incredibly positive" and shared how she supported him through a difficult time:

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“She is an incredibly positive person. I had prostate cancer in 2000, and she rang me and was very positive, saying, ‘You can get through this, which I did. When I had a heart problem in 2011, she was on the phone again saying, Be positive’. It was just lovely.”

Olivia Newton-John with her ex-fiancé Bruce Welch, in London, in 1968 | Source: Getty Images

Olivia Newton-John with her ex-fiancé Bruce Welch, in London, in 1968 | Source: Getty Images

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In 2004, his band, The Shadows, received an OBE. He revealed in 2019 that all the members, including himself, were retiring, saying:

“They’re finished now. We’ve done. I’m 78. We wouldn’t get insured. On the last tour, 10 years ago, we had to take two medics on the tour to get insurance.”

As reported by Mirror, Welch had last seen his late friend perform at the Royal Albert Hall at a Cliff Concert.

WHEN SANDY WAS BORN

Olivia Newton-John knew Hollywood was the place to be if she wanted to go after the acting path. When she moved to LA, she met the wealthy shoe importer, Lee Kramer, who later became her manager and boyfriend.

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Olivia Newton John and Lee Kramer sighting in London circa 1979. | Source: Getty Images

Olivia Newton John and Lee Kramer sighting in London circa 1979. | Source: Getty Images

When the opportunity to star in "Grease" with actor John Travolta showed up, the actress admitted she almost refused the role.

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She said that her career as a singer was rocketing, and she didn't want to bother with a "movie that wasn't good." However, she knew that she was the one to play Sandy and Travolta agreed:

“‘There was only one person on this planet who could be Sandy and I was hell-bent on getting her in the movie.”

Olivia Newton-John and American actor John Travolta as they appear in the Paramount film 'Grease', 1978. | Source: Getty Images

Olivia Newton-John and American actor John Travolta as they appear in the Paramount film 'Grease', 1978. | Source: Getty Images

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"Grease" was released in 1978, and it instantly became a box office hit — it remained the highest-grossing musical for 30 years.

The musical film changed her life. Newton-John collected many accolades in both careers, including three Grammys, seven platinum albums, and eight gold singles.

But her relationship with her manager and lover, Lee Kramer, started to fall apart. After six years together, they part ways due to "personal differences," as she told People in 1982.

English born Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, August 23, 1972. | Source: Getty Images

English born Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, August 23, 1972. | Source: Getty Images

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FIRST MARRIAGE AND CHILD

In 1979, the actress and singer met the actor Matt Lattanzi while filming "Xanadu." Lattanzi was 11 years her junior, and they kept their relationship secret for nearly a year. The 30-year-old actress was afraid of people's reaction to Lattanzi's age.

The actor's youth, however, brought a sense of mystery and freshness to her life. She shared with People how her personal life improved with her younger partner.

Her diet, lifestyle, fitness routine, and health changed as the outdoorsy Lattanzi made her more aware of those things. The couple tied the knot in December 1984, and two years later, they welcomed their first daughter, Chloe.

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 Olivia Newton-John and Matt Lattanzi attend the ABC Television Fall Season Kick-Off Party on September 19, 1984, at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Olivia Newton-John and Matt Lattanzi attend the ABC Television Fall Season Kick-Off Party on September 19, 1984, at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

LIFE EVENTS TURNED THINGS AROUND

In 1992, Newton-John had two unanticipated life events that would turn things around for her. The first was the early demise of her beloved father and her diagnosis of breast cancer at 44.

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The "Grease" star opened The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Victoria, Australia, during her fight and recovery. Three years later, she and Lattanzi decided to divorce.

By 2004, when Chloe was 18, Newton-John faced further personal challenges with her teen daughter. Chloe was battling anorexia and was admitted for treatment. She got better, but things worsened when Chloe, in her twenties, resorted to drugs.

Chloe Lattanzi and Olivia Newton John attends the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Walk and Research Run on October 06, 2019, in Melbourne, Australia. | Source: Getty Images

Chloe Lattanzi and Olivia Newton John attends the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Walk and Research Run on October 06, 2019, in Melbourne, Australia. | Source: Getty Images

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Chloe has recently spoken up about her challenges throughout her youth and blamed her mother's celebrity status for her issues. She admitted suffering from body dysmorphia which led to a series of plastic surgeries.

ANOTHER CHANCE

Olivia Newton-John had battled cancer through her adulthood. The "Grease" star held on with the help of her daughter and second husband, John Easterling, founder of the Amazon Herb Company.

Easterling and Newton-John met in 1993 but only got romantically involved in 2007. In 2008 they tied the knot twice. The first ceremony was secret in the mountains of Peru, and a few weeks later, they made the union legal in Malibu.

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Olivia Newton-John and husband John Easterling at the Steve Irwin Gala Dinner on May 21, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Olivia Newton-John and husband John Easterling at the Steve Irwin Gala Dinner on May 21, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Last year, in an interview with The Guardian, she kept her positivity high and said that "cancer has been a gift to her," but that's something she doesn't wish for anyone.

At 73, the British-born star lived and passed on her ranch near Santa Barbara in California with John Easterling. The couple seemed to be more in love than ever, and Easterling stayed by her side from the moment the pair hit it off until her last.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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