Joshua Fischel, beloved Long Beach musician and curator of last weekend's Music Taste Good Festival, died yesterday at the age of 47. He was suffering from an ongoing bout with cirrhosis.
Sources close to Fischel and his family say he was admitted to the hospital late Sunday around 2 a.m. He'd been in poor health for several years, despite being in good spirits leading up to the festival. The family made the decision to take him off life support yesterday afternoon.
Fischel was seen last weekend greeting fans and overseeing the festival while riding a golf cart and soaking in the success of the festival, which he produced with help from John Molina, chief financial officer of Molina Healthcare, KCRW, and promoter Jon Halperin among many others. The three-day festival on the streets of Downtown Long Beach included performances by English 2 Tone ska revival band The Specials, War Paint, The Melvins, Dr. Dog and many others.
“Josh truly was a gentle giant, tall in frame and tall in presence,” MTG's festival liaison Mark Magdaleno told Long Beach Press Telegram via email. “I’ve known him for a few years and I’m not sure when it began, but I always ran to hug him and almost cling to him as if he was a safe zone. The last memory for me is hugging him at the end of The Specials set last Saturday and thanking him for bringing this gift to our city and my neighborhood. He was kind, loving, gentle. The entire fabric of our city has been changed forever.”
Fischel, a guitarist and vocalist, was himself a longtime member of Long Beach’s musicians’ community. He performed with Josh Fischel & The Fiction, and before that, as a member of the band Bargain Music. Fischel has performed around the world, collaborating with artists like Sublime, Pearl Jam, Lee Scratch Perry, Fishbone, Black Eyed Peas, and the late Ikey Owens.
In addition to Music Tastes Good, he also organized RiotStage and Live After Five music events in Downtown Long Beach.
Since yesterday, condolences have flooded social media from Fischel's friends and family as people struggle to cope with this devastating loss.
"I'm truly devastated," writes Mark DiPiazza, owner of Long Beach venue DiPiazza's. "He was more than a friend . He was part of my life. I didn't realize how sad I could be because I am a really happy guy. I'm happy that he's not in pain anymore. My heart goes out to his family and especially Abbey. I know they always told me they were true soul mates and I'm lucky to have one in my wife Maralyn. She's playing josh videos right now and I'm crying like a baby."
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Mike Cubillos, a friend of Fischel's who organized press for MTG also took to Facebook last night. "Rest in piece Joshua Fischel. I'm so glad we got to work together one last time after all these years. Last weekend's Music Tastes Good was a testimony to your creative vision and your belief in the power of music to bring people together. I'm still in shock and can't believe you're gone but I'm happy I had a chance to talk with you backstage on Saturday night and to congratulate you on all you had accomplished in making MTG a reality."
Fischel is survived by his wife, Abbie, and his brothers Zach Fischel and Ben Fischel, who loved and respected him tremendously, as well as a sister-in-law, and three nieces (Julianne Meursing, Morgan Fischel and Alexa Fischel) and a nephew (Max Meursing) who adored Uncle Squashie and will miss him tremendously.
Though Fischel made a name for himself in a number of bands and as a touring musician, his solo acoustic performances were his true element. As those who loved him scroll through endless videos today in his memory, we invite you to take a look at his soulful power in his cover of Roger Miller's "River in the Rain" on A Sunny Place for Shady People music podcast, episode 9.