Former Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh was found dead Saturday in a Chicago hotel room. He was 40. Welsh’s body was discovered at 1 p.m. after he didn’t check out of his room, and he was pronounced dead at 2:50 p.m., according to the Chicago Tribune. A cause of death hasn't been determined, though a drug overdose is suspected. In a Facebook post, Welsh said that he planned to see Weezer tonight at Chicago's Riot Fest festival.
Welsh joined Weezer after the departure of original bassist Matt Sharp in 1998. He played on 2001’s Weezer, better known as “The Green Album,” which was the band’s first record in five years and signaled a comeback for one of the alt-rock’s most loved and (at the time) seemingly lost groups. He also toured with Juliana Hatfield that year, but Welsh’s time in the spotlight would prove to be short-lived. Welsh later revealed in a 2007 interview that he had a nervous breakdown brought on by drug abuse and untreated mental illness as Weezer began a three-month European tour.
“Without getting too graphic, by the time the tour was winding up, my weight had gone down to about 140lbs (I'm 6'2") and mentally completely wiped out,” Welsh told the website Rock Salt Plum. “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 (had) a complete nervous breakdown.” Welsh eventually tried to commit suicide from a drug overdose in August 2001, which put him in a coma for few days and then a psychiatric hospital. Weezer hired current bassist Scott Shriner that fall.
Welsh stayed out of the music world for the most part after that, though he occasionally appeared at Weezer shows to play the “Green Album” hit “Hash Pipe.” This past July, he joined the band on guitar for “Undone (The Sweater Song).” Otherwise, Welsh worked as an artist, living as a painter in Burlington, Vermont.
Given Welsh’s history and his young age, speculation on the circumstances of his death is inevitably venturing into some dark places. The Hollywood Reporter points to tweets left on Welsh’s Twitter page in recent weeks, including this from Sept. 26: “dreamt i died in chicago next weekend (heart attack in my sleep). need to write my will today.” After that he wrote: "correction - the weekend after next." Authorities have launched an investigation into his death.