Former Wilco Member Jay Bennett Dies at Age 45
Former Wilco multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett died early Monday morning in Urbana, IL at the age of 45. The cause of the musicians death has not been disclosed.
The multi-instrumentalist joined Wilco in 1994 shortly after the release of the groups first album, A.M., and remained with the indie rock band through the recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in 2001. His work can be heard on the Wilco albums Being There, Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, as well as the Billy Bragg/Wilco collaborations Mermaid Avenue Vol. I and II. Bennett was one of the most visible members of Wilco during his seven-year tenure in the group and contributed both keyboards and a variety of stringed instruments to the bands arsenal of sounds. His keyboard swirls, in particular, helped define Wilcos mid-period recordings. On both Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Bennett co-wrote a number of classic Wilco tunes with Jeff Tweedy, including live staples Shes a Jar, A Shot in the Arm, Ashes of American Flags, War on War, Jesus Ect., I’m the Man Who Loves You and Pot Kettle Black. He is also remembered as a skilled arranger and is often credited for piecing together Wilcos elaborate Pieholden Suite.
Bennett left Wilco during the recording sessions for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot after a high-profile dispute with Tweedy documented on the film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. Since his departure from Wilco, Bennett has released a series of solo album and operated his own recording studio. He recently made headlines after filing a lawsuit against Tweedy for breach of contract and unpaid artist’s royalties relating to the documentary. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Bennett was suffering from intense pain from a hip injury suffered during a dive from the stage while playing with Titanic Love Affair. He was preparing to have surgery, but was concerned about his lack of health insurance.
We are all deeply saddened by this tragedy, Tweedy wrote on Wilcos website Monday afternoon. We will miss Jay as we remember him — as a truly unique and gifted human being and one who made welcome and significant contributions to the band’s songs and evolution. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends in this very difficult time.