Coroner: Jay Bennett died of painkiller OD

Jay Bennett

Jay Bennett

A month after former Wilco member Jay Bennett was found dead at home in Urbana, Ill., a coroner has announced that an overdose of painkillers killed the 45-year-old multi-instrumentalist.

Duane Northrup, the coroner of Champaign County, Ill., said that tests showed Jay died on May 24 from an overdose of fentanyl, a drug prescribed to treat chronic pain, and that his death was being investigated as an accident.

Before his death, Jay posted a message on his MySpace blog saying he needed hip-replacement surgery, but was having diffculty paying for it because of a lack of insurance. He blamed the injury on years of “stage jumps and various other rock and roll theatrics.”

Jay, who was also a singer-songwriter, started playing with Wilco in 1996 and contributed to the albums Being There, Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot before he fell out with Jeff Tweedy, the band’s leader. Jay filed a breach of contract suit against Tweedy just weeks before his death, in what look a lot like a desperate attempt to raise money  to pay for his surgery.

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