Jay Walter Bennett


We are profoundly saddened to report that our friend died in his sleep last night. Jay was a beautiful human being who will be missed.

UPDATE MAY 27: We want to thank everyone who sent their condolences from around the world. It’s nice to know there are so many people whose lives were touched by Jay. We are all getting through this together.

UPDATE MAY 29: Smile Politely, a blog based in Champaign-Urbana, asked me and other friends to write something about Jay. I thought I’d post it here too.

There are so many great things I remember about Jay. He was one of the smartest and funniest people I knew. He was the kind of person who would call or e-mail just to talk and make sure you were doing okay. The business part of our relationship was always secondary.

There’s no single story that defines Jay in my mind. There have been so many times when I was blown away by his music. So many times I laughed so hard I thought I was going to cry. “Hot for Buffalo” will be remain one of my favorite inside jokes. Edward, Scott, Will and Paul know what I’m talking about.

One of my favorite experiences with Jay; he was mixing The Palace at 4 a.m. at a studio in Chicago. They had mixes going in the A and B studios. He was running back and forth listening to mixes in each control room and then giving the engineers notes on what to do. It was exhausting and amazing to watch him work. He knew exactly what he wanted each song to sound like. Up until then I had only heard random bits and pieces of songs. I have to admit I was worried because the songs sounded like train wrecks. I could not understand how all the pieces would fit together. Once they had a final mix of “Talk To Me,“ Jay sat me down in front of the speakers and played it for me. I could not believe it. So many weird subtle things going on. But they all fit together perfectly like a beautiful puzzle. As I sat there listening, I looked over at Jay with a big smile. He pointed at the speakers right when I expected to hear a guitar solo. Banjo! What the hell? How do you put a banjo solo the middle of this upbeat pop song? Well, he did and it worked. That was Jay … he was able to fit things together that should not fit together and make art out of it. He made the impossible possible.

The thing I remember most is how much he cared about his Mom and Dad. He talked to them every day. They were a big part of his life. I hope they know how much Jay meant to everyone who knew him.

My heart is breaking for Jan, John, Kate, David, Edward, Matt, Jefferson, Jonathan and everyone who was close to Jay.

— Bob Andrews