CHICAGO – Jay Bennett, a former member of Chicago-based rock band Wilco, died Sunday, according to a posting on the Web site of his record label. He was 45.
Bennett, a multi-instrumentalist who was a member of Wilco from 1994 to 2001, was a creative foil to bandleader Jeff Tweedy on the band’s highly acclaimed albums “Summerteeth” and “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” Bennett’s acrimonious split from the band after the recording of the latter album was chronicled in the 2002 documentary “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.”
Earlier this month, Bennett sued Tweedy in Cook County Circuit Court claiming that he was owed royalties on Wilco songs and compensation for his appearance in the documentary.
Bennett joined the band as a lead guitarist in 1994 shortly after the release of its debut album “A.M.” He gradually assumed a larger role over the band’s next three albums, eventually taking credits as a songwriter and arranger in addition to work on guitar, keyboards and other instruments.
But the sometimes tumultuous partnership between Bennett and Tweedy reached an impasse during the recording of “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” and Bennett left the band shortly after the record was finished.
After his split with Wilco, Bennett released four albums solo and with collaborator Edward Burch.