Ex-Wilco Member Jay Bennett Sues Jeff Tweedy

Written by May 6th, 2009 at 10:14 am

Jay Bennett, former member of Wilco, is suing band founder, Jeff Tweedy, claiming breach-of-contract. Bennett joined Wilco in 1994, soon after the band’s origin, serving as a multi-instrumentalist and primary collaborator for the band until his ouster in 2001. During his seven years in Wilco, Bennett appeared on five albums and in the film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which documented the making of his final Wilco album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

In the suit, Bennett is asking for at least $50,000 in damages, citing his compensation amounted to “infrequent partial payments,” equal to approximately 15 percent of Wilco’s total income gained through sales and performances. In addition, Bennett also claims the band failed to compensate him for his appearance in I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, and that Tweedy failed to obtain “the necessary releases for the use of Bennett’s performance in the film.”

Bennett, who has no health insurance, posted a blog on his MySpace page, explaining how he will be undergoing hip replacement surgery soon.

” I still don’t know exactly when my surgery will be, but I have learned a good deal about the procedure, and that has helped to make me MUCH less fearful. The double dose of anxiety caused by the pain, and the quite natural fear of the invasive surgery itself, really had me in its grip for a while, but now it only comes in waves. Once I am able to get a down payment of sorts together and actually have the surgery performed, I have been told that I then have only about six to eight weeks of physical therapy before I should be operating at approximately 80% capacity—these types of joint replacements have come light years in the past five years or so. The way I look at it, I’m functioning WAY below 80% right now, so what do I have to lose? Except a limp, some pain, some anxiety, and some weight. In many ways, I’m really looking forward to it, and wish I could go in tomorrow.”

For all you inspiring entertainment lawyers, the Chicago Sun Times has posted a link to the lawsuit here.

Responding to the suit, Tweedy told Paste, “I honestly have no idea what these claims are based on” before adding, “I am truly sad it has come to this. I am equally convinced, however, that I have done nothing wrong and that this will be handled fairly and swiftly.”

Wilco will release Wilco (The Album) on June 30.

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