Chicago spokeswoman Laura Kubiak said Welsh was supposed to check out of the Raffaello Hotel at 1 p.m. Saturday. When he didn’t, hotel staff went to his room, entered it and found him unconscious and not breathing, Kubiak said.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said autopsy results will be available Sunday afternoon. Kubiak stated that there’s nothing to indicate foul play.
Welsh, 40, of Burlington, Vt., performed with Weezer from 1998 to 2001, leaving after suffering a nervous breakdown, according to the band’s website. He eventually established himself in a second career as a painter.
“I’m taking a break from music,” he told MetroWest Daily News in 2002. “I really feel the need to reinvent myself and move on, and I couldn’t be happier painting. Music is still an important part of my life, but I really have no desire to actually play it.”
Weezer posted a message on its website, saying Welsh’s time with the band was “vital, essential, wild, and amazing.”
“A unique talent, a deeply loving friend and father, and a great artist is gone, but we will never forget him,” the band said.
Welsh planned to attend Weezer’s Sunday performance at Riot Fest in Chicago.
“i’m excited to see the boys, hang out and have some fun,” he wrote on his Facebook page earlier this month.
Dear friends and fans,
It saddens me and the guys in Weezer so much to say that our beautiful, creative, hilarious and sweet friend Mikey Welsh has passed away at the very young age of 40. 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.
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.
When he emerged from his nervous breakdown that spelled his exit from the rock n roll world, he took on a new role as an astonishing and pure visual artist. It was a glorious flowering of a talent he always possessed, but he had chosen to rock out first, paint later. Our more recent meet-ups at weezer shows, including recently at the Weezer/Flaming Lips show at Jones Beach were always a great time. We will miss him terribly. Our deepest heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends. The world has lost a truly one of a kind guy.
…Tomorrow we play the RIOTfest in Chicago as planned – Mikey was planning on attending this show and we were looking forward to seeing him again. As sad as it is to think about, we know Mikey would never want the rock stopped on his account – quite the contrary in fact. While we wont see him, we know he will be there rocking out with us!
Mikey’s website: see his art.
Mikey’s Facebook page – see more art, and his writings – including some wild weez related stories from back in the day…
Mikeys Twitter page.
“…hello hello.. so i’m going on my first vacation in quite a long time.. very stoked.. first i’m off to nashville, to be photographed working on a big painting by a very good friend of mine [we'll get some shots up here eventually] .. and then off to chicago, to see the mighty =w= rock out.. i’m excited to see the boys, hang out and have some fun.. so everyone take care.. i’ll be posting some weird random sh*t up here [as usual] over the next 9 days or so….. love–m.”
—from Mikeys Facebook page, 10/01/11
Photo above taken in Nashville October 3rd by Mikey’s friend Jordan Vittitow