Rock musician Jay Bennett, a multi-instrumentalist best known for his seven-year stint playing with Wilco, died in his sleep at home in Urbana, Ill., yesterday. He was 45 years old.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
Jay played a key role in the band during that time. The breakdown of his relationship with his bandmates — particularly with its mercurial founder, Jeff Tweedy — was vividly recorded in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco, a black-and-white movie that set out to document the creation of the band’s 2002 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
After leaving Wilco, Jay went on to release a series of albums, the first of which, The Palace at 4am, was a quietly beautiful collaboration with Edward Burch. Jay was at work on Kicking the Perfumed Air at the time of his death.
He went to his MySpace blog last month to update fans about a serious hip injury that was handicapping him and about his struggle to find a way to get the surgery he needed but for which he had no insurance coverage.
Jay filed a breach-of-contract suit against Tweedy earlier this month, seeking “in excess of $50,000.00” for his work in Wilco.
A reader points out that Jay’s most recent solo album, Whatever Happened, I Apologize, is quite good and remains available for free via Rock Proper. (Thanks for pointing this out, Jim!)
And read to the jump for a video of Jay and Jeff playing “Misunderstood.”
Vodpod videos no longer available.
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