Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

In Memoriam: Jay Bennett

Jay Bennett, the brilliant multi-instrumentalist who joined Wilco on tour in 1995, played on their 1996 Being There album and remained with the band through Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in 2002, died at his home in Urbana, Illinois the night of May 24. An autopsy is pending. Bennett had been troubled by recurring hip pain stemming from a stage dive some ten years previously; he’d been recently scheduled for surgery. He was 45.

In many respects, Jay Bennett was Wilco, his inspired, tumbling piano, swirling organ and searing, incisive lead guitar giving the band’s songs an edge that vanished after he left. After departing Wilco, Bennett released four solo albums, the most recent, Whatever Happened, I Apologize released by pioneering Chicago label Rock Proper a few months ago (and very favorably reviewed here).  He also served as producer for several acts ranging from Blues Traveler to Leslie Nuss. An intense yet warm and engaging personality who seemed to take his virtuosity for granted, Bennett suffered for being a brilliant musician in a merely good band. A strong, passionate singer and a terse, sharply literate lyricist, his struggles within Wilco were painfully portrayed in the documentary film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. Earlier this year he filed suit against his former bandmate Jeff Tweedy for breach of contract and unpaid royalties. Bennett leaves behind an unfinished album, Kicking at the Perfumed Air, its title quoting the Boomtown Rats’ sardonic 1980 new wave suicide song Diamond Smiles.

Advertisements

May 30, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, obituary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Jay was such a nice person. When he recorded with me, he didn’t even hear the tracks before he was cued in. He played brilliantly and easily.

    I thought he was so very talented and was sad when he was having problems with WILCO. I was so proud of him for being in that band.

    The loss of WILCO hit him hard and he had a slow decline after that. I was in Champaign when he died. Was there for a reunion of the music scene with a lot of other people and we were all shocked and very sad to hear that he was gone. He was to play that night, too.

    Comment by Leslie Nuss | June 19, 2009 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.