Former Nine Inch Nails Keyboardist James Woolley Dies at 50

James Woolley (far right) with Nine Inch Nails.

James Woolley, who played keyboards for Nine Inch Nails during their early 90s heyday, passed away last weekend at the age of 50. 

Woolley’s ex-wife, Kate Van Buren, shared the news on Tuesday with a touching Facebook post, reflecting on meeting him while NIN recorded was recording its landmark 1991 album, The Downward Spiral. No cause of death was shared.

Woolley played with Trent Reznor and company from 1991 to 1994, including shows on the first Lollapalooza tour and extensive dates behind The Downward Spiral

“James worked hard and played hard with NIN,” Van Buren wrote. “He brought coolness to playing keyboards, which isn’t as easy to do as playing guitar or drums.” 

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The pair met at Los Angeles’ Sunset Social Club in late 1991; “It was love at first sight,” Van Buren recalled, saying she didn't even know he was in Nine Inch Nails at the time. After Woolley left the band in 1994, they got married and started a family. 

“I wanted our friends to know so you can please keep Brendan, Mary and Anne, the Woolley family and all his loved ones in your prayers," she wrote.

Prior to the NIN days, Woolley contributed to the Chicago industrial band Die Warzau. Afterwards, he briefly played in 2wo (featuring Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford), worked on sound design for The Simpsons and played and produced for numerous other musical projects. 

Below, find the official music video for “March Of The Pigs,” which features a leather jacket-ed Woolley playing keys. Rest in peace, James.