Former Wilco Member Bennett Dies

Former Wilco member Jay Bennett passed away during the weekend. He was 45.

Bennett’s body was discovered Sunday morning in Urbana, Ill., where the musician ran a recording studio, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“We are profoundly saddened to report that our friend died in his sleep last night. Jay was a beautiful human being who will be missed,” read the message posted on the Undertow Music Collective’s Web site.

Bennett worked as a musician and sound engineer for Wilco from 1994 through 2001. He had recently filed suit against the band, claiming he was still owed royalties for the five albums and seven years he spent with the band, as well as the 2002 film documentary “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart,” which filmed, among other things, tension between Bennet and Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy.

But lawsuits and legal conflicts are issues to be sorted out another day. Upon news of his former band mate’s passing, Wilco’s Tweedy issued the following statement, according to the Sun-Times:

“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,”

Last month Bennett posted a message on his MySpace page saying he needed hip replacement surgery but didn’t have any health insurance. The musician said he even sold some of his vintage recording gear to help cover the cost of the operation.

Wrote Bennett:

“As time has passed my mobility has continued to erode, to the extent that, for quite some time now, it has even been difficult to sit at the computer for more than just a few minutes …”