James Woolley, former keyboardist for Nine Inch Nails, passed away over the weekend, leaving fans, friends, family, and former bandmates mourning the loss and waiting to hear more on what may have been the cause. Woolley performed with Nine Inch Nails from 1991 through 1994, though his last appearance with the band can be seen in the 1997 “Closure” music video. Woolley’s ex-wife, Kate Van Buren, reported James’ passing to Facebook fans.
The Early ’90s Were Magical Times For James Woolley And Kate Van Buren
New York Daily News reports that Van Buren reported James Woolley’s death on Facebook, though she couldn’t yet give a cause of death. Woolley was 50 years old at the time of his passing.
In her post, Kate shared the moment she met the Nine Inch Nails keyboardist, which took place at Los Angeles’ Sunset Social Club in late 1991, and as Van Buren tells it, it was a case of true love at first sight. Kate says she didn’t know Woolley was a member of Nine Inch Nails upon that first meeting, but later learned that he was the keyboardist and that he was staying in the former home of slain actress Sharon Tate. Nine Inch Nails had been using the home as a base of operations for recording The Downward Spiral, says Van Buren.
Kate credits James for bringing “coolness to playing keyboards” and adds that it’s something not as easily accomplished as it might be for other band members, such as singers, guitarists, and drummers.
“Those years were truly magical and quite an adventure,” says Ms. Van Buren of Woolley’s time with Nine Inch Nails.
Kate was staying in Venice Beach throughout the years Woolley played with Nine Inch Nails, and she recalls walking on the beach to take in the sunset with James on most nights. She also remembers admiring James for having been such a dedicated member of Nine Inch Nails and really giving his best performance each time he played with the band.
James Woolley, Former Nine Inch Nails Keyboardist, Passes Away
When Woolley parted ways with Nine Inch Nails, Rolling Stone reveals that he continued to pursue a career as a musician, first working with Rob Halford on his 2wo project. Following that up, James formed a band of his own, VOID. Woolley was recognized for his work on Nine Inch Nails’ “Happiness in Slavery,” found on the Woodstock ’94 compilation album, for which he won a Best Metal Performance Grammy.
Richard Patrick of Filter shared a brief friendship with James, during the time both musicians were involved with Nine Inch Nails. Upon hearing of Woolley’s passing, Mr. Patrick shared a picture of Woolley and himself together.
“I miss my buddy,” the Filter singer wrote in the caption.
Woolley’s personal life, following his Nine Inch Nails split, seemed to be heading in the right direction. Kate Van Buren recalls that the couple moved in together and were soon married. While that marriage didn’t last, Woolley was a good father and had always remained close to his children and genuinely loved being a father. Van Buren says James had suffered severe neck and spine injuries which limited his ability to engage in physical activity, but she recalls that the former Nine Inch Nails keyboardist spent time painting, teaching piano, or enjoying the outdoors with his kids.
“James passed away this weekend. I wanted our friends to know so you can please keep Brendan, Mary and Anne, the Woolley family and all his loved ones in your prayers.” Van Buren writes in finishing off her Facebook post. “Feel free to share photos and memories of James Woolley here or on his FB page.”
“RIP James Joseph Woolley 1966-2016 We will miss you.”
[Image by Kate Van Buren/Facebook]