One-time bassist for Weezer Mikey Welsh was found dead in a Chicago hotel room on Saturday. Forty-year-old Welsh played in the group between 1998 and 2001, leaving more than a decade ago after suffering a nervous breakdown.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Welsh was found unresponsive on the floor of his room at the Raffaello Hotel on Saturday after failing to check out on time. A cleaning crew tried to open the door to his room and was unable to get in, at which point they found his body lying unresponsive near the door.
He was pronounced dead a short time later, and while the cause of death was not announced pending further toxicology results, authorities suspect a drug overdose. Police said prescription drugs were found in the room, along with a plastic baggie containing white powder believed to be heroin.
Welsh was the band's second bassist, replacing original member Matt Sharp, playing on the band's "Green" album, which featured the hits "Hash Pipe" and "Island in the Sun." After leaving the group, he focused on a second career as a visual artist, and recently wrote on his Twitter page that he was looking forward to seeing Weezer in Chicago at the Riotfest on Sunday night.
"Today is a hard day for Weezer and all Weezer friends, fans, and family," the band's webmaster, Karl Koch, wrote on Sunday. "While everyone is still in shock over yesterday's tragic loss of Mikey Welsh, we know damn well he would never have wanted to stop the rock at today's RIOTfest, the show he was planning on attending. On the contrary, the rock was what he loved, both in music and art. To play the show and play it well tonight is to honor him and his memory. We have a feeling he will be watching."
The band also posted a tribute to Welsh on the site, describing the bass player as "our beautiful, creative, hilarious and sweet friend," who was "never one to shy away from the absurd, dangerous or strange."
On October 1, Welsh wrote excitedly about taking his first vacation in "quite a long time," saying he was headed to Nashville to be photographed working on a large-scale painting with a friend and then to Chicago to see Weezer. "I'm excited to see the boys, hang out and have some fun," he wrote.
The man who replaced Welsh, Scott Shriner, tweeted his condolences, writing, "Really bummed about Mikey. Heart goes out to his family and friends. Such a talent ... he made a special mark on the world with his art."