The Chicago Sun-Times reports: Jay Bennett, a rock musician with deep ties to Chicago best known as a former member of Wilco, died early Sunday morning in downstate Urbana, where he had been running a recording studio, according to a spokesman for his family.
The singer and multi-instrumentalist was 45 years old.
“Early this morning, Jay died in his sleep and an autopsy is being performed,” said Edward Burch, a friend and musician who collaborated with Bennett on the 2005 album “The Palace at 4 a.m.” “The family is in mourning and is unavailable for comment at this time.”
Bennett was a member of Wilco from 1994 through 2001, and was a driving force behind their albums Being There, Summerteeth, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, as well as their Mermaid Avenue collaborations with Billy Bragg. Bennett’s departure from the band, during the recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, was chronicled in the 2002 documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.
Earlier this month, Bennett made the news when he sued his former bandmate Jeff Tweedy over back royalties from the Wilco recordings he worked on, as well as compensation for his part in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.
The Sun-Times reports that Wilco could not be reached for comment, since they are on tour in Spain.