Just read that Jay Bennett, formerly of Wilco and several other musical endeavors, died Saturday night in his sleep. There’s no known causes of death at this point. Bennett was only 45.
Bennett was quite famously dismissed from Wilco while Sam Jones was filming I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, and while it’s widely acknowledged that Bennett comes off looking like a dick in that film, his musical capabilities are undeniable. His contributions to Summerteeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and the Mermaid Avenue albums are monumental – his work helped lift Wilco beyond being merely some alt.country Uncle Tupelo spinoff.
Sadly, I’ve never listened to Bennett’s solo work, though it comes with much critical acclaim. Last year, he gave away Whatever Happened, I Apologize with plans to collect fan donations for a vinyl release. A statement released by his managment company, Undertow, says, “Jay was a beautiful human being who will be missed.”
So if you’ve ever loved music that Bennett touched (he producd the Garrison Starr record with “Superhero” on it, I believe), crank it up and raise a pint to the man, a great guitarist and mulit-instrumentalist. If you own the deluxe edition of I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, pop in disc 2 and watch the video of “How to Fight Loneliness” where you’ll see Bennett parked at the piano, cigarette dangling from his lips, as the band gathers around him and plays the song.
Rest in peace, Mr. Bennett.