Heavy metal rock musician and former “America’s Got Talent” contestant Jay Jay Phillips has died, reportedly of COVID-19,
Phillips’ band, Mettal Maffia, announced the 30-year-old’s passing Tuesday in a statement posted to Instagram.
“It is with great sadness we inform you all of the loss of our bandmate/brother/and friend @jayjayrocks,” the group said. “It still doesn’t feel real and we would give anything to change it. Please respect the family, as well as our wishes as we take our time to grieve and process this detrimental loss.”
The band added: “We miss you brother, every second of every minute, of every day. Thank you for teaching us all to laugh a little more. Rock in Paradise.”
As the New York Post reported, Phillips competed on seasons four and 12 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
“Phillips was known on the reality series for his signature look: wild, curly hair, wacky animal print clothes and a large keyboard hanging from his body,” according to the outlet.
Citing an unnamed family member, TMZ reported that Phillips was fighting COVID-19 during Thanksgiving week, and that things got particularly bad right before Thanksgiving.
“We’re told Jay Jay’s girlfriend and her mom — who is a nurse — went to check on him Thanksgiving Day and found him dead,” TMZ said. “The family member tells us Phillips was not vaccinated, but just before he got sick had started to tell people he planned on getting the shot soon.”
The outlet also reported that Phillips’ father, who lived with the rocker, was on a ventilator in the hospital and “fighting for his life.”
Phillips’ close friend, Seph Lawless, confirmed some details of TMZ’s report in an email to TheWrap.
“His gf found him 5 days ago unresponsive in a fetal position died in his sleep. He was battling covid like so many quietly at home the only difference was his soul was larger than most and so we all knew he was struggling,” Lawless said.
“His father was recently hospitalized for covid as well. We are unsure how he is doing through all of this. JJ was only 30 and always seemed healthy to me decade I knew him, so this is a shock to most of us. “
Lawless also had remembered his friend’s legacy.
“I knew JJ since he was 20,” he said. “He was known through out the Cleveland area where he would regularly perform songs using a variety of instruments at local fairs and park gatherings. Always smiling, incredibly kind and music was his life. The kid could play any instrument and in my opinion was a child prodigy in that respect.”
“JJ was a rock star in his mind and spirit,” Lawless added.