Jay Bennett, 45, a guitarist and songwriter and former member of the alternative band Wilco, died in his sleep Sunday in his Urbana, Ill., home. The cause of death was not immediately known. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, an autopsy was being performed.
Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy said in a statement Monday that he was "deeply saddened" by Bennett's death.
Tweedy said Bennett made significant contributions to Wilco's songs and the band's evolution. He said Bennett would be remembered "as a truly unique and gifted human being."
Bennett joined the band as a lead guitarist in 1994 but had creative differences with Tweedy during the recording of the album "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." He left the band in 2001.
Earlier this month, Bennett sued Tweedy, claiming he was owed royalties for songs during his seven years and five albums with the group.
In the breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Bennett also claimed that he deserved money from the band's 2002 documentary, "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart." The film documents the making of the "Foxtrot" album.
A native of Rolling Meadows, Ill., Bennett was a founding member of Titanic Love Affair, a band that recorded three albums in the 1990s. After leaving Wilco, Bennett produced albums and released several on his own.