Former Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh passed away Saturday, October 8th in his Chicago hotel room, according to police. Welsh, who was a part of the group from 1998 to 2001, found a second career as an artist after his departure. During his tenure, Weezer recorded their self titled green album, which included the hits “Hash Pipe,” “Island in the Sun” and “Photograph.”
Born in Syracuse, New York in 1971, Welsh started his music career at age 19 while playing in the Boston-area, working in several local bands and touring with Juliana Hatfield before meeting Rivers Cuomo. The bassist joined Cuomo’s side-project band in 1997, and eventually stepped into replace Matt Sharp in Weezer the next year.
Years of touring and substance abuse led Welsh to a nervous breakdown, and he was subsequently replaced by current Weezer bassist Scott Shriner. After some stints with smaller bands, he decided to focus on painting.
“I really feel the need to reinvent myself and move on, and I couldn’t be happier painting,” he told the MetroWest Daily News in 2002. “Music is still an important part of my life, but I really have no desire to actually play it.”
Weezer announced Welsh’s passing with a statement on their official website.
“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… 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.”
Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Mikey Welsh.