Former Weezer Bassist Mikey Welsh Passes Away at 40
Mikey Welsh, bassist for the alt rock band Weezer, was found dead in a hotel room in Chicago on Saturday. RIP.
Sad news this morning: Mikey Welsh, former bassist for the alt rock band Weezer, passed away due to a suspected drug overdose on Saturday. He was 40 years old.
Welsh joined Weezer after original bassist Mark Sharp left the band to focus on his own group, The Rentals, in 1998. In 2001, though, he left abruptly for reasons that wouldn’t become clear to the fans for a number of years later. In an interview in 2007 with Rock Salt Plum, he revealed that a lifetime of drug abuse and undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder caught up with him. Over the course of Weezer’s three-month European tour for The Green Album, Welsh began to fall apart, which culminated in a nervous breakdown and a suicide attempt.
He recovered in a psychiatric hospital during August of 2001, after which he temporarily rejoined the music scene as a member of The Kickovers. Shortly thereafter, though, he retired from music all together, citing his distaste for the corporate music process as the reason. He became a full-time artist, and he lived in Vermont with his wife and their two sons.
Sadly, though, he was found unresponsive on the floor of his room at the Raffaello Hotel in Chicago on Saturday after failing to check out, according to the Chicago Tribune. He was pronounced dead at 2:50; the presence of a ziplock bag containing a white powder suspected to be heroin has led authorities to believe that his death was a result of an overdose. Toxicology results are still pending, though, so we won’t know whether that’s the case until after the tests are completed. Welsh had been in Chicago for RiotFest, at which he planned to catch Weezer’s show.
Like many teenagers of the late ‘90s and early 2000’s, I spent a good deal of my angsty high school years listening to Weezer. Admittedly The Green Album—the only Weezer album on which Welsh played—was never my favorite (I preferred The Blue Album), but there’s no denying its importance in terms of Weezer’s renewed popularity, and Welsh was a big part of that. You’ll notice that he’s absent from the official video for “Island in the Sun,” which was directed by Spike Jonez. This is because the video was reshot after Welsh’s breakdown. Weezer uploaded the original video directed by Marcos Siega to their YouTube channel a few years ago, though, so here it is. RIP, Mikey.
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.