As reported by my Sun-Times colleague Lisa Donovan, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jay Bennett is suing his former collaborator in Wilco, bandleader Jeff Tweedy, for breach of contract and unpaid artist's royalties.
Other reports have noted that the suit seeks $50,000 in damages, and part of the dispute focuses on Bennett not being paid for his role in the documentary film "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart."
Bennett contributed to five Wilco albums during his seven years in the band, though his biggest impact was on the orchestral pop of "Summerteeth." Since his well-documented and acrimonious split with Tweedy, Bennett has followed a similar direction in his solo work and recorded other bands. But times have been tough, especially of late: Bennett does not have health insurance, and according to a recent post on his MySpace blog, he is gearing up to have hip replacement surgery. He writes, in part:
I still don't know exactly when my surgery will be, but I have learned a good deal about the procedure, and that has helped to make me MUCH less fearful. The double dose of anxiety caused by the pain, and the quite natural fear of the invasive surgery itself, really had me in its grip for a while, but now it only comes in waves. Once I am able to get a down payment of sorts together and actually have the surgery performed, I have been told that I then have only about six to eight weeks of physical therapy before I should be operating at approximately 80% capacity---these types of joint replacements have come light years in the past five years or so. The way I look at it, I'm functioning WAY below 80% right now, so what do I have to lose? Except a limp, some pain, some anxiety, and some weight. In many ways, I'm really looking forward to it, and wish I could go in tomorrow.
UPDATE: The lawsuit has been posted here. And Tweedy released the following statement to Paste magazine:
"I know exactly as much as everyone else does. I've read the news and I honestly have no idea what these claims are based on. It was such a long time ago. Aside from everything else, I'm being sued for not paying someone for appearing in a movie I didn't produce. Go figure. I am truly sad it has come to this. I am equally convinced, however, that I have done nothing wrong and that this will be handled fairly and swiftly."