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Jay Bennett, dead at age 45; Coroner: further testing needed to determine the cause of death

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Jay Bennett, a rock musician with deep ties to Chicago best known as a former member of Wilco, died early Sunday morning in downstate Urbana, where he had been running a recording studio, according to a spokesman for his family.

The singer and multi-instrumentalist was 45 years old.

"Early this morning, Jay died in his sleep and an autopsy is being performed," said Edward Burch, a friend and musician who collaborated with Bennett on the 2005 2002 album "The Palace at 4 a.m." "The family is in mourning and is unavailable for comment at this time."

UPDATE: Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup told the Associated Press on Tuesday that further testing is needed to determine Bennett's cause of death.

Northrup said Bennett was found unresponsive at his Urbana home Sunday and pronounced dead at a hospital later in the day. Preliminary autopsy results are pending histology and toxicology tests, he added.

Born in the Chicago suburb of Rolling Meadows, Bennett began playing in bands as a teenager. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and earned multiple degrees in secondary education, math and political science. In between, he co-founded the Replacements-like power-pop band Titanic Love Affair, which released three albums during the alternative-rock heyday between 1991 and 1996, when it was dropped from its label.

Bennett was working at a VCR repair shop in Champaign when he was tapped to join Wilco as it toured in support of its first album, "A.M." A talented arranger and versatile musician who could play virtually any instrument he picked up, from mandolin to Mellotron, Bennett formed a fruitful partnership with Wilco bandleader Jeff Tweedy. His contributions over a seven-year period were key to the albums that resulted in the band's national breakthrough, including "Being There" (1996), "Summerteeth" (1999) and "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (2002).

Relations between Bennett and Tweedy, both painstaking perfectionists, soured during the latter recording, as documented in the film "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," and Bennett left the band. Earlier this month, Bennett filed a lawsuit against Tweedy for breach of contract and unpaid artist's royalties, stemming in part from his role in the film.

In late April, Bennett wrote on his MySpace blog about dealing with 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. However, he also was looking forward to finishing his fifth solo album, "Kicking at the Perfumed Air," at his studio, Pieholden Suites, named after the song on "Summerteeth" that best encapsulates his talents as an arranger.

"This whole experience [with the hip pain] has really taught me to look both inward and outward for support, and I've learned things about myself that I thought I had completely figured out years ago," Bennett wrote. "Family and friends have helped me to keep faith in a future that will actually be much more carefree than my constricted present state. I encourage you all to tell me stories of recovery, as they really do help... All in all, I'm 'in a really good place' right now; I'm just waiting until I can make it all happen."

Bennett's former bandmates in Wilco are touring in Spain and could not be reached for comment. But Burch said he had spoken to bassist John Stirratt, and the band was "broken up" about the news.

"He was an extremely talented musician and a great person, and I'll miss him terribly," Burch added.

UPDATE: Wilco publicist Deb Bernardini released the following statement from Tweedy:

"We are all deeply saddened by this tragedy. 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."

UPDATE: The Undertow Music Collective, Bennett's label and management, released the following statement Wednesday morning:

Our good friend Jay Walter Bennett left us this weekend. As news hits the wires so instantaneously these days, we thought it was important to share some thoughts about our friend and brother before any rumors got out of hand.

First, let it be known that Jay was in a really good place these past few years. He had returned to the area he loved--the "Twin Cities," Champaign-Urbana--and resurrected his studio, Pieholden Suite Sound, with the assistance of many dear friends and allies. Jay had been busy making music. He recently had released an intimate record entitled "Whatever Happened I Apologize," and he was looking forward to wrapping up his new work, "Kicking at the Perfumed Air." Proud of finishing a trilogy of records, including "Bigger Than Blue," "The Beloved Enemy," and "The Magnificent Defeat," Jay loved the balanced yet ironic album titles. He was also looking forward to engineering and releasing Titanic Love Affair's previously unreleased record, as well as starting work on "The Palace at 4 a.m. Part II," the follow-up to his post-Wilco debut with Edward Burch. "Jay the Academic" had also reemerged, pursuing his umpteenth degree at the University of Illinois, and he was thrilled to be t aking graduate classes again.

As many of you may be aware, Jay had finally found the courage to put his Wilco issues out into the public forum. After a long, four-year process (and therefore very much unrelated to his impending hip surgery), formal filings against Wilco were finally initiated. This task was very emotional for Jay. He was a "lover," and this confrontation was not easy for him. With the exception of his final period in Wilco, Jay looked back on his time in the band with great fondness and pride. While he was dismayed that some people may have formed a narrow perception of him via the "documentary," all who truly knew him understood that with most entertainment media, editing is usually constructed for dramatic effect and presents only a small part of a larger, more complex reality.

So, please spend some time this week engaging in Jay's favorite passions: listen to a Nick Lowe album, watch some Mythbusters on Discovery, play Warren Zevon's "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner," rent Pay It Forward (one of his favorite movies), write a song with the TV on and the sound off, and focus on how Jay always concluded his communications:

"Love, Jay."


Below: Vintage Vinyl Record Store in St. Louis pays tribute to a fallen local hero.

100_0049 (jaybennettrip)

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RIP Jay :(

you were one of a kind and contributed to arguable Wilco's 3 best record run. not to mention the great energy and musicianship you brought to their live show.

Sad sad news...

truly sad
RIP Jay - you will be missed

very sad...peace to you dude.

RIP Jay. Thanks for everything, and we will all see ya on the other side.

This is HORRIBLE. What a tremendous loss this is to his family, friends and fans of his music. Jay will be missed.

I am so shocked and saddened with this horrible news.

Godspeed, Jay, you are so loved.

My heart goes out to the entire Wilco Family- God Bless you all.

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson.
"Kid's, leave the room."

If the world looks wrong
And your money's spent and gone
And your friend has turned away

You can get away to heaven
On this aeroplane
Just bow your head and pray

I had the pleasure of running into Jay at my UPS Store in Hollywood. He was packing his guitars and sending them back to the midwest after a club date here. Having just moved to California from Chicago, he and I had several mutual friends. He was very kind and considerate. He was very enthusiastic about his solo career. He sent me home with 4 of his CD's. God bless ya, Jay and thank you for the music.

Now that Jay is in the beyond, ask him to intervene on behalf of all musicians (especially the struggling ones), with God.

Pray for his soul & let's all be thankful for the God-given talents he shared with us while he was with us. We look forward to seeing Jay again.


What a marvelous mind this young man had. U of I, Teacher, Math, Poly Sci, Musician, good grief he must have been near genius. I will be curious as to the cause of Death here, no one should be dropping dead at age 45 like that. How wonderful the musical legacy he has left us all, though along with I'm sure, quite remarkable personal legacies with those he loved and who loved and still love him.

Very sad news indeed. RIP Jay.

This is way to sad. I talked with him for an hour at the Knitting Factory in NYC when he and Edward Burch opened for Josh Rouse in like 2002, while Wilco was playing Bowery Ballroom the same night. He was super nice and we had a great time nerding about music. Jay, you were fucking awesome.

This is very sad indeed. It's very true about him being multi-talented. He could play anything, and very much the engine room during Wilco's golden era.

Your music always made good company.

Happy Trails Jay.

Being There changed my life man- thank you

I just hope that, before he died, Jay came to realize how much Wilco fans appreciated his contributions during the seven years he was in the band. Although I love Wilco in its current incarnation, the group would not have achieved its current level of success and acclaim were it not for Jay Bennett.

Those who collaborated with Jay following his dismissal from Wilco remarked on a certain sadness that lingered with him throughout the last years of his life. I do hope that, despite those bouts of sadness and bitterness, Jay got to appreciate how much he touched the lives of music lovers across the country and around the world. He will be missed but not forgotten.

Know more about Jay

May the long time sun shine upon you
All love surround you
And the clear light within you
Guide your way on....
peace on your journey

Terrible news. I can't think of anything else to say on this at the moment.

Very sad. RIP. However, has anyone actually seen what he's looked like lately? I doubt the cause of death is "unknown"... he was quite a big fella. Regardless, =(

Rest In Peace, Jay! You were are a true soul-man! You will be sorely missed brother.

A ghost is gone or reborn........

Co-architect of history's best album: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

"Tall buildings shake,
Voices escape singing sad sad songs,
Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks,
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around."

Thank you for the music, Jay.

Touching sentiment, Jarrett. I'm sure many a 45 year-old man has been know to perish form this "big fella" syndrome you write of, so let's all thank you for clearing-up this medical mystery. While doing so, we should congratulate you for your graduation for the School of Social Graces, obviously with top honors. Your parents must be proud. Kick 'em while they're down, Superman.

I agree completely with Dischord. Could not have said it better myself.

"unknown" is the reasson why you wasted that space, at this time, in this forum. RIP Brother Jay!!!

I fondly remember Jay and Tweedy in silver glam wigs carousing around the stage - best friends - during the encore at a show at the Fillmore just pre-YHF. They were shouting a heavy metal standard, so free...

Too sad. We'll miss you and your music, Jay.

Sad and stunning news. I loved Jay Bennett's enthusiasm and innovations. I'm not a Wilco historian but recently re-read Learn How to Die by Greg Kot. A wonderful and wandering story....
We must love and honor our musicians and be sure they have health care and insurance. For someone to spend a life creating music that meant so much to so many, who provided a balm to the sores of life, should not have to worry about the expense of an operation or insurance.
It is insane how we don't care for our music makers.
God bless Jay - rest in sweet peace!

Such a great talented musician, performer, and person who lived to the fullest of lives. It's always the great people in this world who has to go early. So very young. Jay you're in my prayers.

Well said, Withcare. I was thinking the same thing myself.

RIP, Jay. Your music lives on.

Well said, Withcare. I was thinking the same thing myself.

RIP, Jay. Your music lives on.

Surely Jay, you are in that really good place you spoke of now.
I raise a glass to that carefree future we all aspire to. Know that you were loved. Godspeed you, friend.

Thank you so much Jay for the music and inspiration. Summerteeth changed my life and took me in a musical direction that I never thought possible. I had the pleasure of seeing you perform with Wilco on several different occasions in the late '90s, and the shows always left me in awe. In my opinion Wilco was never the same band without you, and will never be able to replace what you brought to the music. You will be missed but never forgotten.

I'll go ahead and say it - I liked Wilco alot less after Jay left. He was the glue and the glitter. It will be even sadder if we find out later that he died from a blood clot or some other complication from his hip condition because he could not afford surgery. Health care reform can not come fast enough to this country.

Gone...but never forgotten.

I agree completely with Dischord

Jay, thank you for being so freaking amazing. Thank you for your work on the best rock album of all time, "YHF." You will be missed.

Such sad and terrible news. Jay was a major talent, who deserves to be remembered for far more than the circumstances of his departure from Wilco. His solo work was terrific, and he never received the recognition he deserved for his recent recordings. I will miss him.

It's a shame another hero has been taken away. I remember being turned onto Titanic Love Affair back in college and being floored. With the precision hooks & incredible songwriting it was evident Mr. Bennett was a master of his art. I relentlessly drove around to every used CD shop in Houston to track down the elusive "No Charisma" EP (hey, it was a pre-internet world). Rest in Peace, Mr. Bennett...your songs made the world a little bit more bearable of a place to at least a few of us music geeks. Much thanks & respect.

jay, you sure did leave us some great memories, and great music to stay in touch with you. selfishly, we were all waiting for more... i hope you know you were loved by so many. this is so sad i refuse to believe it. this is terrible. my sympathies & thoughts to his family and friends.

Tragic loss. Very talented guy.


Sad sad news. Jay Bennett contributed heavily to Being There, Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which are the three poppiest, strangest and in my opinion, best Wilco records.

Wilco has done fine work since then, but for my money, the best stuff was back in the Lennon/McCartney days of Tweedy/Bennett. This is not to equate these two guys with the Beatles, but to point out a similar creative dynamic that made the best art.

You gotta be combustible to make fireworks.

RIP Jay.

Please, in honor of Jay, get moving and work to make sure he didn't die in vain - take your grief and do some good with it, this never, ever should have happened, and he should never have bee left suffering in pain because he had no money for healthcare. RIP Jay.

Take some action, please.

On June 6th, in thousands of homes across the country, we'll gather to launch our grassroots campaign for health care. We'll watch a special message from the President. We'll build the teams and draw up the plans for winning health care reform the same way we won the election: Building support one block, one neighbor, one conversation at a time. And we'll put those plans into action.

These kickoffs are so crucial that President Obama will join confirmed hosts and attendees on a live conference call.

These gatherings on June 6th are just the beginning of a battle between those who fought and believe in change and those who would protect a broken status quo. The stakes for our country could not be greater.

Some call this strategy pie-in-the-sky. They say we'll never have enough volunteers to make a real impact; that you need insiders and Washington lobbyists to make a difference. But you and I know firsthand how wrong they are. Starting June 6th, it's once again time to show this country how bottom-up change is done.

Please sign up today to host or attend a kickoff near you.

This is a great loss. His music and spirit will continue to influence and inspire all of us, forever.

I saw Edward and Jay play at Davey's Uptown in Kansas City on the Palace at 3 AM tour. It was like the Smothers Brothers on something with better musicianship.

Afterward, he was selling CDs for $15 and I was down to my last $12. He said, I'll take it and he signed it "To Jeff, that's my brothers name."

I just will remember him as a musician who could play with just about anyone and a kind soul. Summerteeth changed my life for the better.

I remember seeing Jay on tour with Wilco in 98 or 99 for the summerteeth tour. I saw them twice. The second show, at the Beacon in NY, was one of the best shows I've ever seen. At one point Jay and the bass player were just running back and forth behind Tweedy during one upbeat song, ("Casino Queen" I think). Tweedy got a little pissed and said "cut that out you guys", but in my mind I was saying, "this is what a band is; playing great music, cracking each other up and pissing each other off." All great bands have the tension of those three elements. Wilco has done great music after Jay left and Jeff Tweedy is still wrighting great songs. But it was during the time with Jay that they were actually a great band. Rest in Peace Jay.

Easily one of the most talented multi-instrumentalists of our time. His contributions to Summerteeth are clear and unique... RIP Jay.

Now he belongs to the ages...

A true artist, creator and innovator

I can attest that your life's work
has had value and has brought joy.

Thank you for the songs-
May they live on forever.

Easily one of the most creative multi-instrumenalists on two of the finest albums of our generation. His contributions to Summerteeth were clear and original and made way for numerous copycats thereafter.. He will be missed. RIP Jay

we'll miss you and your talents Jay.

We wish Jay's family and girlfriend the very best. Now Jay and "East Side Tim" Rutkowski are hanging out once again making great music. ES Tim played drums on Jay's "The Beloved Enemy" record and I am afraid met a similar fate back in 2005. Two great musicians with a lot in common that will both be greatly missed forever by their family, friends, fans and planet Earth. Miss You Tim. Miss You Jay. God Speed to you crazy cats...

The world is not a better place without Jay Bennett. My prayers are with his friends and family and my thoughts are with the wonderful music he created that enriched my own life.

Jay was one of the coolest dudes and best musicians I ever met. I knew him from his Wilco days and as a side man for other artists. I last saw him in Austin when he produced a Blues Traveler record, that was like 4 years ago. What a total bummer, I really like Wilco but it took me a while to get used to no Jay and Ken (Coomer). RIP Jay I was missing you even before I heard this sad news.

may you rest in peace...jay bennett taught me how to play in dallas once...he said "tania, your hitting the ball too hard... take you time, and ease up"...i always thought it was a valuable life lesson as well. what agreat man. jay, you will be missed.

Hey Jarrett, why don't you stfu and go back to playing disk golf you faggot.

Great idea. Bankrupt the country in the name of Jay Bennett. God, you liberal asshats never cease to amaze me.

For-profit health care kills art and artists.

Wow, this is sad news indeed. His contributions to the sound of Being There, Summerteeth, and YHF, I think, were the key ingredient in making them my three favorite Wilco albums. I realize he must have been a pain to work with, and his solo stuff never turned me on that much, but the Tweedy/Bennett collaboration produced some unbelievably great stuff. And while I've enjoyed the post-YHF albums almost as much, in large part due to Nels Cline, they just lack a certain spark that I can only attribute to Jay Bennett. I just regret that I only got turned on to Wilco after he left the band, and never saw him as part of the the live show.

Maybe this will spur Tweedy to reconcile with Jay Farrar. Jeff, you reading this? Please? I never saw Uncle Tupelo live, either. How about a one night reunion show at the Blue Note in Columbia, MO...

I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Jay a number of times and it was always magic.
I also had the honor of working with him in the recording studio. While our group didn't have a major label contract or any kidn fo star power, Jay's enthusiasm for our music and the creative process made the experience even more enjoyable - and truly unforgettable.

sad stuff. use as a reminder to make peace with those you cared about but split. get in touch with old friends you lost touch with.

Jay Bennett changed the way I viewed music production. He was a true talent, and a genius. Thanks for your magic Jay.

Too sad. I miss you Jay and will always remember the fun times
we spent making music and just hanging out. Prayers and thoughts
go out to your friends and family.

I am not a wilco fan. but, even if a band i liked had a member die, i would think it somewhat inappropriate to comment on that person's death on memorial day. had it not been for the millions of americans that have died in defending our democracy and way of life this guy might have never made music. i wish people would comment on the real heroes of today instead of a pop culture icon. also, i am an NPR listening democrat, not some limbaugh nutbag.

What a loss. I like the current Wilco for what it is, but when Jay was in the band, it was about as good as it could possibly be. Never saw them live until he was out of the band. Watching the movie, I was struck by the pretty heavy cigarette addiction he had going on. Those things take our artists and other fine folks away way too early. A lot of them are flat-out brilliant, would give you the shirt off their backs, but really fall short in the self-care department.

I can't count the hours I've spent listening to Jay's guitar, late at night, in the dark. Helped me through some tough times.

Okay he passed WAY too young, he was just getting started.

Sigh. A sad story left unresolved with the Wilco situation.

I suspect his best work was yet to come. The forthcoming solo
work will be his swan song. Sigh.

Thank you for the music, Jay. Rest in peace. I hope any suffering is gone.

Jay, you will be the muse of many musicians to come.
You will be missed...prayers to your family.
From all those who knew you at the U/I, your music and memories will live on.
God Bless you Jay!

Way before Wilco, I remember seeing Titanic Love Affair more than once when I lived in Urbana in the late 80s/early 90s. I even had a TLA t-shirt purchased from Record Swap that I wore proudly for years, and which has since gone missing.

Dug Jay's music then, later with Wilco, and definitely with his run of solo albums over the past few years.

His latest album "Whatever Happened I Apologize" is well worth getting. Download it and send the label a few bucks for it.

We'll miss you Jay.

I am blown away that you would say it is inappropriate for people to offer their thoughts and condolences at the death of Jay Bennett because it was Memorial Day. Memorial Day is indeed a day to remember those who fought for this country, but to say that nothing more can be spoken on this day is just narrow-minded and shows your ignorance. Jay Bennett was an incredible talent and it is sad to hear of his passing. We are fortunate to have such freedom in this country; freedom that allows us to celebrate the life of an amazing artist any day of the year.

May God bless Jay Bennett.

What a truly sad day.

This reminds us all that life is short ( MR TWEETY ) So appreciate the moment (as every good Buddust would.) ask Alejandro.

This is a tragic loss. All the more tragic that in this day and age, all Americans still do not have health insurance.

my favorite jay memory is from the beaumont club in kansas city during a tour for summerteeth. wilco was performing an encore of AC/DC covers and jay was so full of joy. on this memorial day, there is enough room in my heart to say a prayer for jay. his talent and music contributed to my life. God bless him and his family.

WB, you are a moron.

Our Love is all of God's Money.

Thank you Jay Bennett...

Who can guess the secret of the sea?
Who can guess the secret of the sea?
If you can guess the secret of my love for you
We can both know the secret of the sea

WORDS: Woody Guthrie (1939)-
MUSIC: Jay Bennett/Jeff Tweedy (1999)

YHF was a light for me.

Listening to Poor Places is like running into a person who knew my dad 20 years ago.

Thank you, Jay, for making people feel less alone in this world.

If music is medicine for the soul, you were a doctor who saved countless thousands.

Wow... so sad.. it's just too fast.. he was just getting started.
I hope he can rest in peace.. and thanks for the music

@ MC:

Y'know, I respect your right to an opinion, but I think here, you're being a little overly sensitive. I agree that we should remember deceased vets on Memorial Day. But that doesn't mean we forget everyone else.

Jay Bennett touched the lives of a lot of people. The music he helped create, particularly on Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, will continue touching people for generations to come. That's why we memorialize him. You're welcome to your views, but what we did was not disrespectful. If anything it was the highest form of respect for our veterans: We continued living our lives in a free country, which is what they died for.

Finally, Memorial Day is not a day of religious observance; it is a day of remembrance. If we turn Memorial Day into the pious high holy day you seem to indicate it should be, we make gods out of men. No man should be deified, whether or not s/he is a hero. Remembrance is one thing; sabbatical observance is a completely different one. Please try to remember that.

To MC: Justifying your stupid-ass comment by stating that you're a Dem only further shows your ignorance. What party you subscribe to makes no difference when what you say makes no sense. Calling out people on a forum for fans expressing their sorrow of a brilliant musician and kind human being is unconscionable. Plenty of us pay our respects to those fighting for our country, but this is not the forum in which to do it. If you read this, I'm sure you won't find shame in your statement because you have your head up your ass, righteous one.

RIP Jay...and keep Heaven rockin'

Go back to sleep now
My darlin
And I'll keep all the bad dreams away
Breathe now, think sweet things
And I'll think of all the right words to say
Because we made you
My darlin
With the love in each of our hearts
We were a family, my darlin
Right from the start

... From the song 'My Darling' from 'Summerteeth'. Tracks 7-11 on that album really get to me still after all these years. You did well Jay.

drugs are bad, mmmmmmmmmmmkay


May your head now rest upon a pillow of California Stars. You'll be missed.

Steve & Kristin

MC: Great logic. Yes, anyone who dies on or near Memorial Day should be forgotten. Also, you can only talk about Jesus' death on Good Friday. And no memorials on Sept. 11th. Boy, we're going to run out of days.

RIP Jay.

Wow I went to high school with him...45 is to young to die rest in peace Jay.

So sad to hear that another great musical artist has left us too quickly. Jay's work with Wilco still moves me after thousands of listens. Best wishes to his family and friends who, contrary to popular belief, will not find closure, but they will learn to live with the burdon of their loss.

My heart breaks for Jay's parents, John & Jan. There is nothing more tragic than losing a child. My thoughts and prayers are with them as they mourn the loss of their son.

Jay Bennett was instrumental in transforming Wilco from a solid alt-country outfit to America's greatest rock band. He will live forever in those three recordings (Being There, Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot). What devastating news. May Jay rest in peace.

When Jay left Wilco, I pretty much stopped listening to them. Jay was a major part of that band and its sound and he made the shows so damned fun to watch. We will miss you terribly, Jay. Peace.

I will miss Jay for his gifts as a musician and for his friendship.

Rest in Peace, Jay.

Thank you for all the great music Jay! We will miss you!! :(

So sorry to hear. He was a great musician but a difficult personality. And for those who think this has anything to do with the fact that he had no health care you need to get it straight. Health care is service provided by highly trained and schooled people. This service, like any other, costs money and should never be considered a free hand out by the Federal government. If you think that it should be please move to Canada or Europe and see how well that works out for you.

Take care Jay & Family... I am so sorry for your loss. This is our last goodbye, I hate to feel the love between us die, but its over, just hear this & then I'll go...You gave me more to live for, more than you'll ever know.....

I'm so very sad to hear of Jay Bennett's death. I got to see him with Wilco once in 1998 opening for REM near San Antonio, and then solo acoustic once with Edward Burch opening for Kim Richey at the Texas Union Theater. Such an immense talent. "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" is one of my favorite all time records. My thoughts are with his family.

fwiw I've never heard of anyone from Canada or Europe wishing they had an American style health care system in their country.

Jay was screwed over by Wilco and that helped contribute to his death is my belief.


aw, man. too goddamned young.

godspeed, jay.

I thought he was the 2nd best gitarist of all time. He was the 3rd best lead gitarist, the 7th best bassist and 12th best overall gitarist of all time. I thought he was really cool. I don't anymore, cuz he is dead, infortnately.

Pink Sock you are a silly muppett. I don't know anyone in Australia who would ever wish they had to pay for every medical cost, even life saving emergency surgery for things they never planned to be in, or got themselves into. Say being in a car accident, for instance, or the victim of some violence. Making people pay for things like this is evidence of a deranged set of principles. Costs before people. But get this egghead, people came before costs. It was people who invented costs. Thus this is really a question of what is it really costing and to whom? Not much for the wealthy, and it seems with their lives for the poor, average and struggling. What a great system! I'm moving to Arkansas next week.

Steve Stonerson,
Sydney Australia


As a veteran, I can assure you that some of us joined the service to protect and defend music fans right to mourn the loss of a great artist any of the 365 days of the year.

Jay delivered the goods on Wilco's most interesting albums and we will miss the music that we will never know.

Jay's final album, "Whatever Happened I Apologize", is available as an authorized free download here:

And you can join the fan-funded pledge drive at Kickstarter to raise money to manufacture the album on 12inch 180gram wax here:

Rock In Peace, Jay.

Very sad news for myself and other Wilco fans in Australia. I saw Jay with Wilco at an outdoor gig in Raleigh NC when I was travelling through the States in 1999, with Jay in very fine and rocking form. A very, very talented man.

A blow to music fans. Especially your fans, Jay. You will be sorely missed.

Man, Jay could really rock on that SG! I will miss him. To the Bennett family, I am very sorry for your loss.


...i was given the honor through chance, to meet this man at one of his lowest points about a year and a half ago...

...i was impressed by his honesty, intelligence, compassion, and pain...

...will miss what he gave to the world...

...and I am comforted by the fact that I was able to say goodbye and give him a hug the last time I saw him...

...though I did not think I would never see him again, with his loss we are all diminished...

I had the pleasure of seeing Jay with Wilco and as a solo act. This guy was a joy to watch and to listen to. Extremely talented musically and a genuine songwriter of the highest caliber. I dind't hear about this until Tuesday and it is with a heavy heart I wish the best for his surviving friends and family.

I met Jay twice. 1st time at The Lager House in Detroit when he toured with Centro-matic before the Palace record and just after the movie came out. I went with my son who was about 19 at the time. We went early and sat with Jay for about 2 hours at the bar and talked tech stuff, music, Wilco etc... He was an open book and very, very cool - even dedicated a song to us.

Second time I met him was at The Trinity House in Livonia. He remembered me from our first meeting by recalling several points from our first conversation. I was impressed to say the least. The thing I remember most about that show was it was a no drinking or smoking room - yet Jay and Ed were sucking on Amstel Lites and American Spirits all night.

At his core, Jay was so rock and roll. R.I.P.

Wilco lost a lot of magic after Jay departed. Saw them in 1996 at The Troubador in Hollywood. Such an amazing show, my friends and I likened it to seeing Cream or The Yardbirds. Jay stayed focused all night, never looking up from his guitar, never overplaying, always tasteful. What a bummer. RIP, man.

thanks Jay for all i learned from you.R.I.P
larry costa
new york

met you once and you were really kind humble generous to a fan, you're about as close we got to a brian wilson in the last 20 years - you're an absolute genuis in a studio, the wilco you were part of was my favorite, sleep now my darling leave all your troubles behind.

i agree with the overall feeling expressed in messages and postings offered to the Web over the past few days - jay bennett in wilco remains the wilco i enjoyed most. i remember his courage and determination as both he and jeff were interviewed on 120 minutes. soon thereafter, their live show at the cleveland agora ballroom distinguished them completely from the melancholy rampant in other bands at the time. to me, jeff and jay kicking at each other playfully while mixing a zeppelin riff into a wilco song came across as a wholesome breath of fresh air during that time's music. the show’s energy and art prompted me and a buddy to spread the word and we followed wilco to columbus the very next day to show friends what they had just missed. more so, who doesn't have "mermaid avenue" in their collection? and yet for me, "being there" is in my top 5 most listened to 90's CD's. jay bennett's music and work is a remarkable achievement.
i am saddened by his passing and contribute these memories since they were important to me.

Unbelievable...only a liberal wack-job would use Jay's death to push National Healthcare!!! If you, the oh so generous and patriotic taxpayer, are sold on the idea of paying for everyone's health care, why didn't you step up and write Jay a blank check for his surgery BEFORE he died? You express your hollow condolences and half-hearted regret NOW, but where was your concern when he was still LIVING?! Dare I say you are more concerned with pushing a socialized agenda than you are with the actual individual you bothered to write about?

Jay Bennett is gone far too soon. So sorry to hear about his passing. Rest in peace.

May God Bless you in the great beyond, Jay. As all of us fans, I truly believe Jeff and Wilco, will have a void in their lives, but a wondeful memory of your true contribution of what Wilco has become. I wish I would have met you in your lifetime. A genius and a passionate man you were.



Saw TLA at the Meto in Chicago and some dive club in Lyons. Met the band while they were working on their broken down van in front of this small club in Lyons. God I loved thier music.


I'm a singer-songwriter from Austin Texas. I had the honor of working with Jay both when my former band Missing Ingredient opened for Wilco 10+ years ago and after both Jay had left Wilco and Missing Ingredient had dissolved. I came to Chicago and shared a solo acoustic bill with Jay at Lounge Ax. I was touring with a prominent singer-songwriter, and we had a day and night off in Chicago, so Jay came to my show at the Riviera and then, after discovering I'd be in Chicago one more night, asked me to do the gig with him at Lounge Ax. This was typical of Jay's warm, friendly, loving ask someone whom he barely knew to play a gig with him.

When I expressed my gratitude and asked him why he picked me to share the bill with him, he smiled and replied, "I really like your stuff. It'll be great." For a musical talent like Jay to say that he liked MY music was a high honor indeed, and the Lounge Ax gig was awesome.

After that, Jay and I became email pen-pals and kept in sporadic touch. Jay's death is a colossal loss to the global musical community and the world in general. He was incredibly talented as a musician and an extremely kind, generous soul. The last email I got from Jay was on April 15th. He asked me what was going on with me musically and personally, said that he was sorry that I had to find a new guitarist and drummer, and asked if I had found a bass player yet. He talked about movies and music and then signed off like he always did:

"Love, Jay."

Rest in peace, friend.

What's so reassuring for the memory of Jay Bennett is how so many people took time to celebrate his life and career(not just on this site, but many others), and grieve his passing. Being There is not just my favorite Wilco album, it's my favorite ALBUM album. And it's no secret how much Jay contributed - just look at the liner notes, he's all over the place! But for me, the best bit is that first quiet piano chord on Misunderstood after all the loud feedback(which is great!). If that's all he did in his ENTIRE life(which it certainly wasn't), that would be enough for me. God Bless, Jay. RIP.

I would simply like to express my deep appreciation to Mr. Bennett for bringing his music to the world. I only wish it didn't have to end so soon. You may be gone, but never forgotten.

I can't quit crying over this one...Bye Jay.

Why hasn't any news about cause of death been released at all? Everyone reported about Jay passing and there hasn't been one follow up story at all.

Just watched the Wilco movie for the 2nd time. It was easy to see how the split worked its way between the two great writers of the band. I am just so sad to have stumbled on to Jay's solo work and to learn of his death. Whatever the cause, the loss of such a tender and gifted soul is to be mourned. My you rest in peace my friend, you deserve some quiet time and some relaxation. Namasté, Buzzie!

Good God. I have so much to write. I've searched the internet for anything truly meaningful about Jay. And I've come up empty handed.

To me, it's inconceivable that this brilliant man has become but a footnote in the history of a band that his vision ruddered a path to things previously unheard.

I would like Edward Burch to please email me. I would like to tell a story about meeting Jay some years ago. But I just can't see doing it without your permission, Ed. So please. Contact me.

PS: Your the only guy I've ever seen do A Quick One on acoustic, and pull it off.

GOd Bless.

Thanks for the article, was doing some research and needed this alot of talent here and was still in his prime.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on May 24, 2009 9:25 PM.

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