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RIP Jay Bennett


dave-O
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that's really sad. He made some great music.

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 album "The Palace at 4 a.m." "The family is in mourning and is unavailable for comment at this time."

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.

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Bennett's going to be remembered for his role in YHF, but I think Summerteeth was truly his masterpiece. He arranged and played virtually all of the keyboard and electric guitar parts on that album.

Jakis - that James Alley Blues was killer!

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The first few Wilco gigs I saw were between 1997 and 2000 with Jay Bennett still in the band. Personally still my favorite era of Wilco and likely always will be, it was the time they felt most like a band and that had a lot to do with Jay's contribution to the band.

I hope Jay has now found the peace that he struggled to find during his life.

Peace and Love,

Tim

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For those interested, on July 9th members of Staggered Crossing will be reuniting for a Jay Bennett tribute show at the Horseshoe. Music performed will be Jay Bennett material from both his time in Wilco and solo albums, of which he has 4.

My band, Shoot the Cameraman, have been invited to play a few songs and we're honored to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the mad genius.

further details to follow.

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  • 4 weeks later...

http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/ex-wilco-member-jay-bennett-died-of-overdose-1003986858.story

"Authorities say former Wilco guitarist Jay Bennett died of an overdose of the pain killer, and that they're investigating his death as an accident.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup says tests show the 45-year-old musician died from fentanyl. The drug is found in patches commonly prescribed to treat chronic pain."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello all - just a quick reminder this THURSDAY July 9th there will be a tribute show to the late Mr. Jay Bennett at the Horseshoe Tavern.

A Tribute to the Music of the late Jay Bennett

with Staggered Crossing, Peter Katz, Blair Packham, The Kramdens, Stone River, Quincy LePalm, Shoot The Cameraman, John Moore, Five Star Trailer Park, Kin Jarrett and more

Thursday July 9 2009 @ The Horseshoe Tavern

10 PM $10 @ the door

(All proceeds will be donated to the Mr. Holland's Opus foundation: www.mhopus.org)

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