Josh Schwartz, guitarist and songwriter, dead at 45

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Josh Schwartz, with Painted Hills in 2011
Josh Schwartz, with Painted Hills in 2011

Josh Schwartz, the beloved L.A. singer-guitarist, has died after a long battle with ALS. He was 45.

He was a force in L.A. bands such as Further, Beachwood Sparks, the Summer Hits and the Tyde and toured with the likes of John Cale and Charlatans UK. In 2010, he released a solo album as Painted Hills.

The music community rallied in support of the Orange County native at a benefit show in 2014 but friends reported his condition had deteriorated in recent weeks.

“Josh was a brother, a naturally gifted musician/songwriter/producer,” said Brent Rademaker of Further, Beachwood Sparks and now GospelbeacH. “It was as a guitarist that he really shined (and was far too underrated), but his real gift was as a friend … if you were Josh’s friend you had a real friend for life. California GOLD!”

Among the many tributes on social media in the past 24 hours, there was this from drummer-songwriter-impresario Ric Menck, who released the Painted Hills album on his Bird Song Recordings imprint: “He flowed like a river, and he took the time to appreciate things, the ocean, animals, nature, his friends and most of all, music. I shall forever treasure the ‘meetings’ we had to discuss the release of the Painted Hills album on my label. To be honest, I couldn’t believe he was letting me do it. To my mind it’s one of the greatest albums of his generation. It sums up the entire ‘California psychedelic canyon rock’ thing better than any other album. Every fucking note is perfect, every song a masterpiece. …

“I loved him. Everyone loved him. He was a fucking rock & roll star.”

||| Stream: Painted Hills’ “Kaleidoscope Eyes”