Sunday, October 09, 2011

Indieobit: Mikey Welsh

Mikey Welsh, former Weezer bassist, has died, according to a post on his Facebook wall:

We are deeply saddened to announce that Mikey Welsh passed away unexpectedly today. He will forever be remembered as an amazing father, artist, and friend. May he rest in peace.

Born in New York in 1971, it was in Boston that Welsh thrived as a musician. He was a spine to a number of Boston scene acts, gaining the experience which would see him join first Juliana Hatfield's touring band, and then The Rivers Cuomo Band. When Matt Sharp quit Weezer in 1998, Welsh made the move from Cuomo's side-project to main band.

He was with Weezer for four years - although the band spent some of that time on hiatus - and appeared on the album The Green Album. He left in mysterious circumstances in 2001, a mystery finally cleared up in an interview with now-defunct music website Rock Salt Plum:
Basically, a lifetime of doing drugs and being undiagnosed as having Bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder finally caught up with me when I was 30 years old.

At the beginning of a 3-month European tour with Weezer, I started slowly falling apart. Without getting too graphic, by the time the tour was winding up, my weight had gone down to about 140lbs (I'm 6'2") and mentally completely wiped out. When I returned to the states, my family had made plans for me to see a psychiatrist in Boston. First though, we had to play a few dates around the U.S., and perform on The Tonite Show (which ended up being my last performance with Weezer).

By the time I got to Boston, I was having a complete nervous breakdown. It ended with a severe suicide attempt (an overdose). I was found and rushed to the hospital where I had come to within minutes of my heart completely stopping. I was in a coma for a few days, and woke up in a lockdown psychiatric ward.
There was a happy ending, though - Welsh left music behind to start a second career as a visual artist, in which he enjoyed some success. He would even return to play bass with Weezer a couple of times, guesting on a couple of tracks during gigs in Vermont and New York.
Mikey Welsh died in Vermont. He was 40.