Former Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh dies

By | Published on Monday 10 October 2011

Mikey Welsh

Musician and artist Mikey Welsh, who was a member of Weezer for their eponymous 2001 album (generally referred to as ‘The Green Album’), was found dead in a Chicago hotel room on Saturday. He was 40.

Born in New York in 1971, Welsh played with a number of Boston-based bands in the 90s, eventually joining Juliana Hatfield’s live band, and playing on her albums ‘Bead’ and ‘Juliana’s Pony: Total System Failure’, co-writing several tracks on the latter.

In 1997, he began performing as part of Rivers Cuomo’s backing band at the Weezer frontman’s solo shows, where he was testing out songs written for ‘The Green Album’. When Matt Sharp left Weezer in 1998, Welsh was hired to replace him as bassist.

As well as recording on ‘The Green Album’, Welsh was also a part of the band for most of their touring activity to promote it. However, drug use along with undiagnosed post traumatic stress syndrome and borderline personality disorder took their toll on him. Back in Boston during a break from touring in 2001 he attempted to commit suicide by taking an overdose. He then spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

Having left Weezer, he briefly returned to music as part of Mighty Mighty Bosstones guitarist Nate Albert’s band The Kickovers, appearing on their 2002 album ‘Osaka’. But the same year Welsh retired from music altogether to concentrate on his art career, with which he enjoyed some success.

Although he never returned to music as a career, Welsh did join Weezer on stage a couple of times in recent years, most recently performing on ‘Undone – The Sweater Song’ at a show in New York in July.

On Saturday, a statement was posted to Welsh’s official Twitter page, which read: “We are deeply saddened to announce that Mikey Welsh passed away unexpectedly today. He will forever be remembered as an amazing father, artist, and friend. May he rest in peace”.

According to reports, staff at the Rafaello hotel in Chicago found his body after he failed to check out. Reports have claimed that he died of a suspected drugs overdose. However, having conducted an autopsy on Sunday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office has not yet entered a cause of death pending the results of toxicology tests.

In a statement, the band said: “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 was vital, essential, wild, and amazing. 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. If it rocked, he had to try it – and he always found a way to pull it off”.

Welsh had been in Chicago to see Weezer play last night. The band went ahead with the show as planned, saying: “As sad as it is to think about, we know Mikey would never want the rock stopped on his account – quite the contrary in fact. While we won’t see him, we know he will be there rocking out with us!”