Just three weeks after filing a lawsuit against band leader Jeff Tweedy for unpaid royalties, former Wilco multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett has died, according to multiple reports. The Chicago Sun-Times' Jim DeRogatis confirmed Bennett died in his sleep early Sunday morning. He was 45. Friend and collaborator Edward Burch says an autopsy will be performed to determine cause of death.
Although a prolific musician in his own right, Bennett will forever be known for the formative role he played in Wilco, particularly on 1999's Summerteeth, and in the tumultuous times leading up to the band's seminal 2002 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart captured Bennett's final days in Wilco, when Tweedy supposedly explained Bennett's firing to him by saying a "circle can have only one center." Here, Bennett describes the band's songwriting process during Yankee Hotel Foxtrot:
There's been no word from Bennett's family or the members of Wilco yet. The question you're wondering, of course, is, "Are there tribute videos on YouTube yet?" Yes, yes there are.