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Jay Bennett (Wilco), RIP


“We are profoundly saddened to report that our friend died in his sleep [Sataurday] night. Jay was a beautiful human being who will be missed.” [Undertow Music Collective]

As the LA Times points out, Undertow released Jay Bennett‘s 2002 solo album, “Palace at 4 am (Part I).”

In the late ’80s, Bennett founded the rock band Titanic Love Affair in Urbana, Ill., which lasted into the mid-’90s. He was best known for his seven years in adventurous rock act Wilco. Bennett split from the Chicago-based group in 2001, and since his departure had been pursuing a solo career, as well as operating Pieholden Suite Sound – named after a song on Wilco’s 1999 album “Summerteeth” — in Champaign , Ill.

Bennett released the solo effort “Whatever Happened I Apologize” via the Web late last year, and reported at that time that he was pursuing “another” master’s degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Yet it was Bennett’s time in Wilco that won him the most acclaim.

He had a not-so-amicable split from the band in 2001, which was documented in the 2002 film “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and Greg Kot’s book “Wilco: Learning How to Die.” He did, however, play a major role in the band as a writer, producer and musician. The orchestrated pop of “Summerteeth” further stripped Wilco of its country-rock roots, and 2002’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” saw the band move into more atmospheric territory.

Bennett was asked to leave the group before “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” was released, and his relationship with Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy remained strained. In early May of this year, Bennett filed suit against his former band mate for breach of contract stemming from his participation in “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.” Bennett was seeking damages in excess of $50,000, according to court papers. [LA Times]

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