RIP Mikey Welsh (1971-2011)


According to online reports, Boston-area artist and musician MIKEY WELSH died earlier today at the age of 40. No cause of death has been made public. He had been living in Burlington, Vermont, with his wife and two sons. 

UPDATE: Welsh was found dead yesterday in a Chicago hotel room. On September 26, he tweeted: "Dreamt I died in Chicago next weekend (heart attack in my sleep). Need to write my will today." 

Welsh played bass in Weezer from 2000 to 2001, replacing Matt Sharp, who left in 1998, and was in the band at the time of the release of the self-titled "Green Album," which yielded some of Weezer's biggest hits ("Hash Pipe," "Island In The Sun"). As a Boston-area musician, Welsh played in Heretix, Chevy Heston, Jocobono, Left Nut, Slower, and served as Juliana Hatfield's touring bassist and occasional collaborator. He also had a stint in AA (Scott) Bondy's former alt-rock band, Verbena.

Welsh "retired" from music in 2001 to focus on his art, and this year designed the cover for Twin Berlin's upcoming self-titled record.  

A post on his Facebook fan page 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.

The official Weezer twitter account also just tweeted: @Weezer We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear the awful news, our friend and fellow weez rocker @mikeywelsh71 has passed away. We love u Mikey

UPDATE: 12:45 am Carly Carioli added the following:

I knew Mikey Welsh a little -- mostly through former Phoenix music editor Matt Ashare, with whom he was good friends, and later through my friend Ami Bennitt, who put on an exhibit of Welsh's art. For the past several years Welsh had been living in Vermont and focusing on his paintings; according to his Facebook page, he'd just completed another one yesterday, entitled "mama's little pills spilled all over the floor":

He gave this interview in June, to promote the opening of an exhibit of his paintings at a Philadelphia gallery: 

Although he'll undoubtedly be best remembered for his stint in Weezer -- before he joined, he was also in Rivers Cuomo's short-lived Boston solo band while Rivers was at Harvard --my favorite musical memories of Welch date back to his stint in a band called JOCOBONO, who made one great record and were far greater live. In retrospect they were a missing link between Nirvana and Queens of the Stone Age. There was a Rumble gig (which the Phoenix archives tell me must've been 1996?) with Mikey in full drag, humping his bass amp in the middle of a brain-melting set that somehow failed to get them to the finals. Someone uploaded their stuff to MySpace, so click on the small black button and have a listen: 

Leave by Jocobono
It was probably no coincidence that every band he joined, from there on out, suddenly got heavier. It was true for Weezer -- remember "Hash Pipe"? -- and it was also true for Juliana Hatfield -- who took a left turn and made her metal album, credited to Juliana's Pony. (Legend has it that record was built on a handful of bass lines that Welsh had first offered to Rivers.)


And that's just scratching the surface: when he was here, it felt like he was playing with everybody -- he'd pop up in some cool local project like Chevy Heston and then suddenly be on tour with Verbena. He'd played in Heretix -- in their time, a band that had what passed for commercial potential -- but also in Left Nut, one of tha era's better basement-show punk bands. In those years it was frowned upon to be, self-consciously, a rock star. But it was clear to everyone that Welsh had been born with whatever gene makes you need to be onstage. 

The internet says he had a good summer.

In July he evidently hopped on stage to play guitar with Weezer and the Flaming Lips. And here he is in August, finishing up a painting called "This is how it never ends."

Weezer's Patrick Wilson tweets: "Rest in peace, Mikey Welsh. You deserve it." 

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