Jay Bennett, the former Wilco multi-instrumentalist, passed away in his sleep on early Sunday morning (May 24) due to unknown causes. He was 45.
Bennett was best known for his work with Wilco, the group for which he wrote and recorded on 1996’s “Being There,” 1999’s “Summerteeth” and 2002’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” as well as the band’s Woody Guthrie themed albums with Billy Bragg, “Mermaid Avenue” and “Mermaid Avenue, Volume 2.” He was currently living in Urbana, Illinois and working on his fifth album, “Kicking at the Perfumed Air.”
Bennett’s turbulant departure from Wilco was well-documented andplayed out in the public eye. Earlier this month, Bennett filed suit against Wilco leader (and founder of Uncle Tupelo) Jeff Tweedy for “breach of contract” for alleged non-compensation for his appearance in the 2002 Wilco documentary, “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart,” as well as “unpaid royalties” for work throughout his tenure with the band. The suit was said to be for at least $50,000.
There is speculation that a working musician like Bennett is always at risk, like a majority of Americans, because they lack adequite health insurance.