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Jay Bennett, former musical jack-of-all-trades for Wilco, died last night in his sleep, according to several news sources. Bennett, who was kicked out of the band in 2001, resurfaced at the beginning of this month to sue frontman Jeff Tweedy for not paying him for his role as the dyspeptic villain of Sam Jones‘s 2003 documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. The film depicted the contretemps between Bennett and Tweedy over creative control of Wilco’s most celebrated album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot—a conflict that culminated in Bennett’s ejection from the band.
Bennett is widely credited for his role in marrying roots-rock influences with electro-pop and experimental noise and thus transforming Wilco from Uncle Tupelo 2.0 into a band that has managed to remain relevant long after Jay Farrar and Son Volt—Uncle Tupelo’s other outgrowth—faded into niche and obscurity.