Former Weezer member Mikey Welsh has died. The former bass player for the multi-platinum rock band was reportedly found unresponsive in his Chicago hotel room on October 8th. Welsh took over bass duties from founding member Matt Sharp in 1998, just in time for their commercial resurgance, following a hiatus taken by the group after disappointing sales of their sophomore album ,"Pinkerton", released in 1996.
Following a reported nervous breakdown, Welsh left the band in 2001. However, in a 2007 interview, he attributed his departure to a series of much darker problems:
"By the time the tour was winding up, my weight had gone down to about 140lbs (I'm 6'2") [63,5 kg – 1,88 m] and mentally completely wiped out. When I returned to the States, my family had made plans for me to see a psychiatrist in Boston. First though, we had to play a few dates around the U.S., and perform on The Tonight Show (which ended up being my last performance with Weezer). By the time I got to Boston, I was having a complete nervous breakdown. It ended with a severe suicide attempt (an overdose). I was found and rushed to the hospital where I had come to within minutes of my heart completely stopping. I was in a coma for a few days, and woke up in a lockdown psychiatric ward."
Welsh retired completely from music in 2002, devoting his attention to a fledgling career as an artist. As both a painter and a sculptor, he'd amassed at least 13 exhibitions of his work.
In a bizarre turn of events, Welsh seemingly predicted his own death on Twitter in the weeks preceding it, leading some people to conclude that his death was premeditated. A still-visible post on his Twitter account reads: "dreamt i died in chicago next weekend (heart attack in my sleep). need to write my will today." He later added, "correction – the weekend after next."
Welsh had reportedly traveled to Chicago from his home in Burlington, Vermont to attend a concert by his former band. Police suspect prescription narcotics were a contributing factor in his death, though preliminary toxicology reports were inconclusive.
A post on Weezer's official website reads, in part:
"Today is a hard day for Weezer and all Weezer friends, fans, and family. 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."