Almost a month after former Wilco multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett was found dead in his home of undetermined causes, an Illinois coroner said the musician died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, according to media reports.
Tests showed that Bennett died from fentanyl, a drug often prescribed to treat chronic pain. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Champaign County coroner’s office is investigating the death as an accident.
A month before his death, Bennett, 45, wrote a post on his MySpace page describing the debilitating pain he continued to suffer from a hip injury sustained while performing. “A decade-plus of multiple nightly stage jumps and various other rock’n’roll theatrics had finally taken a toll that I could no longer deal with,” he wrote.
The Tribune reports that, PriCara, a division of Johnson & Johnson, recalled fentanyl patches last year after finding that some could leak, leading to labored breathing and potential overdose. There was no indication from the coroner that Bennett used a fentanyl patch.
Bennett was a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and engineer for Wilco from the mid-’90s until the release of 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. During the sessions for that album, relations between Bennett and frontman Jeff Tweedy soured. Tweedy eventually fired him from the band, and Bennett sued the group to recover lost royalties.
After Bennett’s death, a spokesperson for Tweedy released a statement that read, “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.”