For those who haven't yet heard, Jay Bennett--probably known best as a former Wilco member and multi-instrumentalist--died in his sleep yesterday at the age of 45. Bennett had reportedly been experiencing severe health problems recently: A lack of insurance left him unable to pay for a hip replacement surgery he needed badly. The exact cause of Bennett's death has not yet been released.
Bennett, also a founding member of Titanic Love Affair, sued Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy just weeks ago for breach of contract regarding backpayments on song royalties and his appearance in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Sam Jones' 2002 documentary on the legendary Chicagoans. Bennett's earlier conflicts with Tweedy and his resulting departure from the band were documented in the film. Rock journalist and Chicago institution Jim DeRogatis ran this piece on the Chicago Sun-Times blog, which includes the following statement from Jeff 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.
It's a remarkably tragic end for a genuinely talented instrumentalist and songwriter. Watch below as Bennett helps construct the "sonic landscape" that made Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's "Poor Places" one of the most interesting songs on the record.