Josh Gottheil is one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. His enthusiasm and his (to quote a great rocker) “lust for life” were second to none. When I first met him he was in the self described “worst band in the world” — the Dead Relatives. Later he began booking bands into clubs that, at the age of 14, he was many years to young to enter — and not just any bands but bands that would later become huge (Pixies, Black Flag, Minutemen, Throwing Muses, among others). While we lived together, Josh had an office set up in a spare room and was most proud of the fact that he had a fax machine. During that time, Josh was diagnosed with lymphoma. He continued booking shows throughout his treatment — even from his hospital bed. He never quit smiling, laughing or living his life to the fullest. I will always look to him for inspiration.
-Geoff Merritt, Owner of That’s Rentertainment, Champaign, IL
Joshua David Gottheil was a young man with a special charm and a big heart. At a very young age, Josh accomplished a large part of what seemed to be his dream—to support musicians and to bring the music that he loved to audiences.
Born in 1969, Josh played drums in rock bands while in junior high and again while in high school. During this time he learned the business of promoting rock music shows and soon was bringing bands from around the world to perform in his hometown of Champaign-Urbana (C-U).
Because promoting rock music became his passion, Josh formed his own production company and after graduating high school in 1987 he decided to attend community college while keeping his business going. However, a few months into the beginning of his first semester he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and Josh had to begin chemotherapy treatments that made it impossible for him to continue his studies.
Throughout the months he was in treatment, however, Josh did continue his involvement in bringing bands to the community and many of these went on to become top names in the rock music world. By the late spring of 1988 his chemo treatments were successful and Josh was ready to begin a new phase of his life by moving to Chicago and forming a new production company called Concert One along with two partners. A new line-up of bands was booked to perform in C-U with plans to promote additional shows in Chicago and St. Louis. However, for Josh it wasn’t to be—the lymphoma recurred and his doctor said his only chance of beating it was to undergo a bone marrow transplant procedure.
Josh was a patient at Barnes, Hospital in St. Louis for four months and the love and support he received from family and friends, from the the C-U music community and from musicians around the country was amazing. Despite the struggle he was undergoing, he was cheered by a steady stream of messages expressing good wishes for his recovery. And throughout this time both he and his family learned to have the highest respect and gratitude for the nurses who cared for Josh and other patients in the bone marrow transplant unit. These oncology nurses who were specialized in bone marrow transplantation were truly amazing and exemplified the highest ideals of their profession. They never wavered in their remarkable dedication to providing the care that would lead to Josh’s recovery and their experience and expertise was always evident.
Josh was never able to return home. After his heroic struggle, he died on April 4, 1989 at age 19 while still at Barnes Hospital. Josh’s parents and his sister established The Josh Gottheil Memorial Fund to honor his memory by honoring the nurses who gave him their all in his struggle to recover from lymphoma and from the challenge of the treatment he underwent. It is to these nurses that the Josh Gottheil Memorial Fund for Lymphoma research is dedicated.
Materials from Josh Gottheil’s career as a drummer, music promoter and organizer were donated to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives.