Jay Bennett, the former Wilco multi-instrumentalist, passed away in his sleep on early Sunday morning (May 24) due to unknown causes. He was 45. Bennett was best known for his work with Wilco, the group for which he wrote and recorded on 1996's "Being There," 1999's "Summerteeth" and 2002's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," as well as the band's Woody Guthrie themed albums with Billy Bragg, "Mermaid Avenue" and "Mermaid Avenue, Volume 2."
The Chicago Sun-Times spoke with Bennett's friend and frequent collaborator, Edward Burch, who simply stated "Jay died in his sleep and an autopsy is being performed. The family is in mourning and is unavailable for comment at this time."
Wilco is currently touring in Spain and lead vocalist/guitarist Jeff Tweedy expressed his condolences in a statement released today. "We are all deeply saddened by this tragedy. We will miss Jay as we remember him -- as a truly unique and gifted human being and one who made welcome and significant contributions to the band's songs and evolution. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends in this very difficult time."