Published Oct 09, 2011Mikey Welsh, a painter and former bassist for pop rockers Weezer, has died. The musician was found unresponsive in a Chicago hotel room yesterday afternoon (October 8) after failing to check out and was pronounced dead on the scene after police had arrived. According to the Chicago Tribune, it's suspected that Welsh died of a drug overdose. He was 40 years old.
Weezer made a statement on their website about their fallen former bandmate, who played with the act from 1998-2001 and performed on 2001's Weezer (aka The Green Album).
"Our beautiful, creative, hilarious and sweet friend Mikey Welsh has passed away at the very young age of 40," the statement reads. "A unique talent, a deeply loving friend and father, and a great artist is gone, but we will never forget him. His chapter in the weezer story ('98 - '01) was vital, essential, wild, and amazing."
The tribute goes on to praise Welsh's vibrant performance style, adding that "Mikey was never one to shy away from the absurd, dangerous or strange, and he did so with a gusto few others had. No one had quite the stage presence of Mikey, nor have there been many who pulled the types of shenanigans he did at shows."
Current bassist Scott Shriner, who replaced Welsh in the band nearly a decade ago, also wrote about Welsh's passing on his Twitter account, expressing his condolences. "Really bummed about Mikey," he wrote. "My heart goes out to his family and friends. Such a talent... he made a special mark on the world with his art."
Welsh, who had been living in Burlington, VT, left Weezer in 2001 after suffering a nervous breakdown. At the time, the split seemed un-amicable. ''I took some time to get some help for something and they basically took off on me, abandoned me,'' he told Entertainment Weekly in 2002. ''The way it went down was pretty lame. Being in a band with guys that long and being as good friends as we were, having them just kind of split was definitely cold.''
The group apparently patched things up with the four-stringer long ago, adding in their tribute that they often saw him at shows and were supposed to meet up with him in Chicago today (October 9), as the band is playing the city's RIOTfest.
Following his exit from the group, Welsh briefly played with Mighty Mighty Bosstones member Nate Albert's the Kickovers, but quickly departed to focus on his art career. He had also played bass for Juliana Hatfield.