Mikey Welsh; October 1, 2011
|Birth name||Mikey Welsh|
|Born||April 20, 1971|
|Died||October 8, 2011 (aged 40)
|Origin||Syracuse, New York|
|Instrument(s)||Bass guitar, guitar, vocals|
Michael Edward "Mikey" Welsh (April 20, 1971 — October 8, 2011) was an American musician and visual artist, best known as the former bassist of Weezer. He was one of several musicians that played with Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo in Boston during Weezer's hiatus from 1997 until 2000. Following original bassist Matt Sharp's decision to leave Weezer to focus on his group, the Rentals, Welsh was ultimately chosen to take his place. Welsh played with Weezer from the time that they regrouped in 2000 until August 2001, when Welsh was hospitalized following a suicide attempt. Shortly afterwards, he retired from music to focus on an art career. Welsh passed away in 2011.
As a musician
Welsh was born April 20, 1971 in Syracuse, New York. He started off as a Boston-area musician, playing in bands such as Heretix, Chevy Heston, Jocobono, Left Nut, and Slower. He also performed in Juliana Hatfield's backing band and, during Weezer's hiatus, he performed as a touring musician for Verbena and in the first full-band incarnation of Patrick Wilson's musical project The Special Goodness. Welsh joined Weezer following the departure of Matt Sharp in 1998. According to Welsh in a Facebook post from September 13, 2011, Welsh first met Rivers Cuomo when a member of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones recommended Welsh to Cuomo:
the first time i met rivers cuomo, was in a bar in the south end of boston called "the deluxe".. it was after a jon spencer blues explosion show.. i was sitting at a table with several friends just hanging out when rivers walked in with a couple of guys from the band. we were all star struck about seeing r.c., and we started talking about how much we all loved his band.. i was trying not to look a...t him when he suddenly turned and started walking directly towards where i was sitting.. r. came up to me and asked me if i was mikey, the bass player.. i stammered out that i was. he told me that one of the guys in the mighty mighty bosstones had recommended to him that we try playing together, that we would probably hit it off.. we did. this was probably around the spring of 1997.. rivers went off that summer to tour on "pinkerton".. it was late august when he finally called me.. we ended up doing a lot of hanging and jamming together, ultimately playing two shows in boston as the rivers cuomo band..in jan. of 1998, i flew to los angeles to officially audition for weezer...after 3 or 4 days of playing together, rivers took me out to dinner at a california pizza kitchen on pico blvd. in hollywood... he was about to ask me a question, and my life would forever change....
Welsh performed with Rivers Cuomo during a number of Weezer "try-out" shows in late 1997. He would later formally audition for the band in early 1998 before becoming an official member that summer. His first appearance on a Weezer song was a recording of "Velouria" recorded in August of 1998 (released in early 1999). According to the Recording History, Welsh wrote a number of bass lines in this period, recorded them, and sent them to Rivers Cuomo for writing inspiration. Cuomo never used any of them, so Welsh instead offered them to Juliana Hatfield for her 2000 album Juliana's Pony: Total System Failure, on which Welsh received co-writing credit for four songs.
Welsh toured with the band during their resurgence in the summer of 2000 and appeared on the EP Christmas CD that December. He has appeared on only one studio album with Weezer, the band's eponymous 2001 album ("The Green Album"). Welsh continued to play on the band's subsequent tours in support of the album as well as early sessions for the band's intended fourth album.
Departure from Weezer
I've learned that Mikey has not come to rehearsals in L.A. yet, due to some sort of private medical problem (no, not a cliche rock-star drug problem!). He has been holed up in Boston near his family. The rest of the guys are waiting for word, but have decided that theres so much work coming up for the band that they had better try out some bass players in case Mikey can't make it. So in between learning new songs with just Brian Pat and Rivers in rehearsal, theyve begun trying out different bass players, which as any band knows is extremely difficult. Thats all I know for now, and we'll keep you posted...
Following Welsh's continued absence during filming of the band's music video for "Island in the Sun" with Spike Jonze, Koch posted an update on August 14 explaining that the band was unsure as to Welsh's whereabouts, and that the band was "in the dark" on his health status. Koch continued to emphasize that Welsh's issues were, according to sources close to Welsh, not drug-related. The following day, Koch confirmed that Welsh had been checked into a psychiatric hospital:
...today we have a little more. We have learned that Mikey has checked into a psychiactric hospital, we think in his hometown of Boston. However, we unfortunately still dont know whats wrong with him, and continue to find it very difficult to find out any more from those who might know. We wish him the very best and we hope he comes back soon. But in the meantime, due to the circumstances at hand with the upcoming tours and such, we are indeed hastily scheduling try-outs for a replacement player for the upcoming gigs, JUST IN CASE Mikey isn't able to return.
Koch continued to update fans on Welsh's status in the coming weeks. On August 19, Koch posted an update confirming that Scott Shriner had been selected to fill in on bass. Koch posted one final update on Welsh on September 23:
Whats going on between Mikey and Weezer is a private matter, (as it has been since day 1) and there will be no further announcements, news or speculation in this space unless and until everyone involved is ready to make any statements on the matter. I'm sorry it has to be this way, and I know how concerned some of the fans have gotten over this, but at this point you can at the very least rest assured that Mikey is safe. When there is more news on this, it will be here. In the meantime, the band will continue to rock out with Scott on bass, and the success of the recent shows has shown that he can weild the bass with the best of them.
The exact details of Welsh's departure were unknown to the public for several years. It was eventually revealed that he did, in fact, have a nervous breakdown due to a combination of drug use, undiagnosed mental conditions, and the constant wear of touring. The combination of these factors ultimately led Welsh to attempt suicide via drug overdose. He was subsequently checked in to a psychiatric hospital. Welsh spoke about the ordeal in a 2007 interview with the website Rock Salt Plum:
"Basically, a lifetime of doing drugs and being undiagnosed as having Bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder finally caught up with me when I was 30 years old. At the beginning of a 3-month European tour with Weezer, I started slowly falling apart. 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. 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 Tonite (sic) Show (which ended up being my last performance with Weezer). By the time I got to Boston, I was having a complete nervous breakdown. It ended with a severe suicide attempt (an overdose). I was found and rushed to the hospital where I had come to within minutes of my heart completely stopping. I was in a coma for a few days, and woke up in a lockdown psychiatric ward."
In 2001, Welsh returned to the Boston music scene, briefly joining Nate Albert's (guitarist for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) band, The Kickovers. In an interview, he expressed his distaste for the corporate music process, stating that, "It’s actually fun to just be playing in the studio without some major-label idiot standing over your shoulder." In an interview with Entertainment Weekly from March of 2002, Welsh expressed that he felt abandoned by his former Weezer bandmates: "I took some time to get some help for something and they basically took off on me, abandoned me [...] The way it went down was pretty lame. Being in a band with guys that long and being as good friends as we were, having them just kind of split was definitely cold."
Soon after, Welsh retired from music to become a full-time artist. He, his wife and their two sons lived in Vermont.
As an artist
A quote from Welsh's official website explains his methods of creating his art:
"Welsh attacks his canvases with pure spontaneity and aggression, almost never using a brush and preferring to work only with his hands and fingers. This technique gives him the opportunity to get as close and "inside" to his paintings as he needs to be. For him, this is a necessity. Welsh also works in sculpture, working with found objects. Constructing creatures out of broken and dismantled chairs and furniture, to vacuum hoses, tupperware [sic], wire, and rope. All painted with his usual explosion of color.”
His artwork was featured on a line of snowboards for the manufacturer Burton Snowboards, in a line of entitled "The Farm.". He also painted the album cover for the album There Goes My Virtue] by the band Twin Berlin, as well as the covers for the albums Fall in Love With The Concussions and Break Up With The Concussions by the band The Concussions.
Reunion with Weezer
Welsh attended a Weezer show on July 12, 2005 in Lewiston, Maine. Cuomo dedicated "Hash Pipe" to him, the very mention of his name drawing forth cheers from the crowd. Welsh also got to meet current Weezer bassist Scott Shriner. Said Karl Koch:
Rivers dedicated the last song of the set, "Hash Pipe", to Mikey, and suprised the crowd by saying Mikey had come down to visit and was watching the show. Rivers invited him to come down and Mikey was really stoked to come say hi and see the old gang again (and the new gang - Scott gave him a very warm welcome.) Mikey, the bass player in weezer from 1998-2001, has moved on since those days, recovering from a dark period in his life with a successful art career, living up in Vermont with his wife and stepson, and says he never touches musical instruments anymore, preferring the visual medium entirely.
On September 2, 2010, Welsh attended a Weezer concert in Essex Junction, Vermont. During the concert, Scott Shriner and Pat Wilson organized a "last minute switcheroo", pulling Welsh onstage to play bass during the song "Hash Pipe", to the surprise of Rivers Cuomo. Said Welsh, "Fortunately, they picked the one Weezer song I still remember how to play!"
On October 8, 2011, Welsh was found dead by staff at the Raffaello Hotel in Chicago . A drug overdose was suspected, but toxicology results were inconclusive . He was 40 years old. Welsh's Facebook page announced that he had tragically passed away that day, and was confirmed later on the official Weezer Twitter account. Two weeks before his death, Welsh posted to his Twitter account: "Dreamt I died in Chicago next weekend (heart attack in my sleep). need to write my will today," . Welsh later added, "correction – the weekend after next"
- 2001 — Weezer (The Green Album)
- 2000 — The Christmas CD
- 1998 — "Velouria" from the compilation Where Is My Mind? A Tribute To The Pixies
With Juliana Hatfield
- 1998 — Bed
- 2000 — Juliana's Pony: Total System Failure
- 2002 — Gold Stars 1992-2002: The Juliana Hatfield Collection