R.I.P. Jay Bennett

Gone in a puff of smoke
Gone in a puff of smoke

Goddamn.

It’s difficult enough to lose people when they are elderly; to have someone suddenly pass away at 45 is shocking and unfair. But on May 24th, we lost another one. It goes without saying that heartfelt sympathies go out to family and close friends, but Jay Bennett also had a profound impact on a lot of people in the extended music community as well. Even a cursory observer could see that he pushed buttons in Jeff Tweedy that few others could reach, and his tenure in Wilco was my favorite. He also left an indelible mark on countless other bands who have benefited from his production, his musicianship, his guidance and his friendship.

Like everything else in his life, all was not rosy. He was thrilled about getting closure on his newest album yet three weeks ago he filed a lawsuit against Tweedy seeking compensation for back royalties from Wilco and fees for his appearance in the film I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. This was less than two weeks after penning a lengthy blog on MySpace where he disclosed that health issues had kept him from pursuing life at full speed, but he had recently come to terms with what lied ahead and actually embraced the challenge. He sounded positive, peaceful, and grateful, a man on a mission to not only climb that mountain but to plant the flag and look for the next one. And although there would certainly be obstacles, the journey would move forward.

“All in all, I’m “in a really good place” right now; I’m just waiting until I can make it all happen. Thanks so much to all of you for downloading “Whatever happened I Apologize,” I really hope that you enjoyed it. I greatly appreciated all of the feedback you all gave me—keep it coming on the new stuff, if you feel like it. Again, apologies for my absence, I honestly do care about staying true to my promise to maintain open and interactive relationships with all of you “out there,” wherever you may be…Peace, Love, and Understanding, Jay Walter Bennett”

I guess that journey now continues elsewhere, Jay. Thanks for everything you generously shared.

Read the entire “Hip Replacement” blog here.

To download Whatever Happened I Apologize” free, click here.

Jay Bennett’s solo discography

Jay’s MySpace page and Wikipedia entry

Jim DeRogatis’ blog at the Chicago Sun-Times; comments from fans and Wilco.

 

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