Fans of reggae-rock-punk-hip hop in Long Beach, California are mourning the passing of Josh Fischel of Bargain Music.
Fischel, who died this past Thursday (September 28, 2015), at the age of 47, was known and honored in near-equal parts for his musicianship and promotional prowess. There are few musicians from the Long Beach area who don’t have some now-treasured memory of the big man, known as the “six-foot troubadour”, and more than a few of them are expected to take part in a ceremony scheduled to take place in the early evening of October 13, 2016, honoring the life of Josh Fischel.
Josh Fischel, from Bargain Music fame, was not a member of Long Beach’s Sublime, “the six-foot troubadour” did play an integral part in the remembrance of Sublime.
Fischel was a major part in documenting footage from the band’s seminal Van’s Warped Tour moments in the late 90s.
Most recently, Josh Fischel was promoting his own music festival in the city of Long Beach, the ambitious Music Tastes Good Festival and the theatrical musical treat, RIOTstage.
The Long Beach community liaison for the Music Tastes Good Festival, Mark Magdaleno said: “Josh truly was a gentle giant, tall in frame and tall in presence. 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.”
“A lot of people are expecting a celebration of life or a musical tribute, but this will be the actual funeral,” said his wife Abbie on Monday morning, when she and Josh’s mother, Maurine, were still in the planning stages and the permitting process.
Josh Fischel, who toured the world as a musician, collaborated with bands such as Sublime, Pepper and others, and organized the highly ambitious Music Tastes Good Festival held just last weekend, has died.
Fischel’s cause of death could not be immediately confirmed.
The Specials were among the headliners of Music Tastes Good, a three-day festival that took place last weekend in the East Village Arts District. Music Tastes Good’s lineup also featured several local bands and restaurateurs.
“It was like a dream that he and I, and so many people had talked about. A big music festival in Long Beach,” friend Mike Wylie said.
Wylie, a local businessman, said he was aware that Fischel was living with a longtime illness and that they embraced on Sunday, the final day of the music festival.
“When I hugged him, I knew I had to kiss him,” Wylie said. “I just knew it was going to be the last time I was going to see him.”
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.
“He was larger than life on stage and behind the scenes and he pulled off some of the most ambitious productions I’ve ever seen,” Justin Hectus, an event promoter who co-founded Summer and Music, a series of downtown Long Beach concert events.
“I expect that his presence will loom large and continue to inspire for many years to come,” Hectus continued.
Fischel was also friends with John Molina, chief financial officer for Molina Healthcare and a music fan.
“His death was tragic. Josh was one of the most sincere, passionate, artistic people I’ve ever met,” Molina said. “I am dumbstruck that he’s gone, but I’m so happy that he saw his dream come to fruition.”
In 2015, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia honored Fischel with a Go Long Beach Award for his work in giving back to the city.
“It’s a sad day for the city, but it’s also a sad day for people who cared about music and creativity in Long Beach,” Garcia said Thursday after learning of the news. “I hope the community rallies around all the things he loved and will keep it going.”
Condolences poured out on social media Thursday night, with many thanking Fischel for his contributions to the music scene in Long Beach.
Fischel is survived by his wife, Abbie.
Video: Bargain Music – “Raking Leaves” (Live)
Video: Bargain Music – “Black Eye” (Josh Fischel Acoustic)
Video: Sublime – “Get Out” (Josh Fischel Acoustic)
Video: Pepper – “Stormtrooper” (feat. Josh Fischel)