Josh Fischel, the founder of last weekend’s inaugural Music Tastes Good Festival in Long Beach, died Thursday afternoon of liver disease, according to festival organizers. He was 47.
The news came as a shock to the Long Beach and Southern California music communities, who just days ago saw Fischel overseeing the culmination of a life’s work in local music.
Though family and festival organizers knew he had been sick, no one knew how rapidly his disease would progress after the festival. Music Tastes Good was a three-day event in downtown Long Beach headlined by the likes of the Specials, Warpaint and the Squeeze, among many others.
“He couldn’t go more than a few feet in his golf cart without somebody stopping him to say ‘Hey, Josh!’ ” said Jon Halperin, the talent buyer and co-promoter of Music Tastes Good.
“It’s absolutely beautiful and poetic that he got to see this through.”
In an interview with The Times last week, Fischel said that the festival had been a years-long dream to finally produce an event that would document Long Beach’s local music scene and help establish the city as a touring destination.
“We have so much love for this town, and it’s grown so much,” Fischel said. “We’ve been dreaming of this for years, and this is the time to do it.”
Before founding Music Tastes Good, Fischel had been a touring musician, playing in the bands Bargain Music and Josh Fischel & the Fiction. He performed and worked with acts including Fishbone, Pearl Jam and the Black Eyed Peas, and promoted the Long Beach events series RiotStage and Live After Five. He also directed a documentary on the Long beach band Sublime, “Stories, Tales, Lies & Exaggerations.”
After Fischel’s death, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia told the Long Beach Press Telegram that “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.”
“I hope the community rallies around all the things he loved and will keep it going.”
Halperin said that Fischel had already begun to make offers to bands for a 2017 edition of Music Tastes Good, and he fully expected the festival to continue as a tribute to its founder.
“This was his life’s work,” Halperin said. “It had all built up to this. He told me he’d dreamed of this for 10 years, and he was just thrilled, absolutely thrilled,” Halperin said. “His legacy will live on. It’s going to be Josh Fischel’s Music Tastes Good festival. He’s not someone whose memorial is going to be 40 people in a room. We’re going to need space for a lot more people.”
Fischel is survived by his wife, Abbie; his mother, Maurine Fischel; brothers Zach and Ben Fischel; nieces Julianne Meursing, Morgan Fischel and Alexa Fischel; and nephew Max Meursing.
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Oct. 1, 10:55 a.m.: This article was updated with additional survivor details.
This article was originally published Sept. 30 at 2:30 p.m.