Published Sep 12, 2017Former Beachwood Sparks guitarist Josh Schwartz has passed away, following a battle with ALS. He was 45 years old.
Schwartz initially joined the Los Angeles alt-country band in the late '90s, reteaming with his Further bandmates Brent Rademaker and Christopher Gunst. Schwartz eventually left Beachwood Sparks before in 1999, prior to the release of their 2000 self-titled debut album.
After releasing Once We Were Trees in 2001, Beachwood Sparks remained relatively dormant until reuniting in 2008 to play a Sub Pop 20th anniversary show. They later released a third LP called The Tarnished Gold in 2012. Schwartz did not participate in either reunion. He did, however, contribute to Desert Skies, an album recorded in the late '90s and then later released in 2013.
Following his time in Beachwood Sparks, Schwartz collaborated with artists like Flight of the Conchords, Lou Barlow and Tift Merritt. He also reteamed with Rademaker and Gunst once again as a member of the Tyde. Schwartz later went on to release a solo album under the moniker Painted Hills in 2010.
Schwartz was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, and his friends and family began fundraising for stem cell therapy in 2014 via an online crowdfunding campaign. That same year, artists like Rademaker, Ariel Pink and John C. Reilly participated in an L.A. benefit show for Schwartz.
Since Schwartz's passing, Beachwood Sparks have paid homage to their bandmate on Twitter.
Rademaker has also shared a statement on the death of his bandmate via Pitchfork. Read it below.
When I met Josh he was 18, still had braces on his teeth and could play guitar like Neil Young and J Mascis. I started two bands with him Further and Beachwood Sparks, he was like a brother to us. Anyone who saw those groups knows that Josh was a supernatural force. An extraordinary guitar player and gifted songwriter. I urge anyone who hasn't heard his music to do so.
When Josh was diagnosed with ALS he was so brave, he never complained he just immersed himself in listening to music and buying records. I think the best insight into Josh is the fact that just weeks before going into the hospital for the last time, he was still supporting his friends and favorite artists, he bought an Eric Gaffney limited edition signed solo album from Eric's Bandcamp page knowing that Eric needed the support.
In the last few years Josh was paralyzed by ALS and could only communicate with his eyes through his computer but still loved to have company and host parties, listening to records and watching movies. It definitely helped him outlive the doctor's diagnosed time. They even took him out see his favorite bands, Dinosaur Jr and Neil.
Personally he was a quiet person but not shy. He was incredibly funny as well. He had a knack for the kind of sarcasm that made light of any bad situation. It helped relieve tension on tour or in the studio. He was one of those rare people that really brought out the best in others. It was hard to be a jerk when Josh was around. He really was magic.