Monday, May 25, 2009

Indieobit: Jay Bennett

Former Wilco member and solo artist Jay Bennett has died at the cruelly young age of 45.

Bennett died in his hometown of Champaign, Illinois. He churned through a number of local bands, including Titanic Love Affair, with whom he recorded three albums, but was working in an electronics repair shop when he joined Wilco. Although not a founder member of the group, he quickly set about making himself a key part, contributing songs as well as bringing multiple instrumental skills and helping steer the band down a route that took it from alt-country to a wider alt-rock audience.

Relations with the rest of the group soured during the making of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and Bennett found himself an ex-Wilco in 2001. The breach never healed; last month, Bennett was suing Jeff Tweedy over claims of unpaid royalties from the Yankee making-of movie I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.

Bennett went on to record a number of solo records; he was in the middle of working on a new collection at the time of his death. He died in his sleep over the weekend.