Gottheil’s Musical Legacy Lives On

Courtney Greve
Daily Illini

October 17, 1997

Music fans in Champaign-Urbana owe many nights of toe-tapping, exhilarating joy to one person—Josh Gottheil. It was through his dedication and love for music that bands such as Jane’s Addiction, Throwing Muses, Poster Children and the Pixies came to our little college town. They were treated like kings. They were treated like family. Now they keep coming back because Josh was their friend.

After a two-year battle against leukemia, Josh Gottheil died in the spring of ‘89. He was 19 years old, but he reached for his dreams every day of his life.

First, he was a drummer in a local band, Dead Relatives. When he discovered his organizational skills, it led to an interest in promotion, not only for his band, but for any band that touched him in some way. As a promoter, he booked bands to play at Mabel’s, Illini Union Ballroom and Foellinger Auditorium. Josh inspired everyone around him to appreciate all types of music and to constantly broaden their horizons.

One of the musicians that was inspired by Josh’s commitment to music was Tanya Donelly, former member of Belly and Throwing Muses. Donelly first met Gottheil when Throwing Muses played in Champaign and their friendship continued to grow until Josh passed away.

Professor Fred Gottheil, Josh’s father, said he appreciated all of the musicians who made an impact in his son’s life. “Tanya and Josh became very close friends. She wanted to come back and raise money for Josh’s fund because he meant so much to her,” Gottheil said.

Tanya Donelly will be headlining a benefit for the Leukemia Society in Josh’s name at Mabel’s on Oct. 22. Space Age Polymers and Lanterna will also be performing.

Henry Fraine, member of the band Lanterna, said he could remember when he went to see shows that Josh promoted. Fraine also said Josh was the man responsible for introducing some excellent music to Champaign. “Josh had a do-it-yourself attitude,” Fraine said. “If he wanted a band to play, he would call their management, get a venue, print tickets and do it.”

It was precisely this attitude that made the bands want to return to Champaign. Josh brought them here because he enjoyed their music and wanted to share it with others. The crowds that came to see them were sincerely interested in their music and they had Josh to thank. Fraine said that it took a while to organize their upcoming event at Mabel’s, but both Donelly and the other bands really wanted to make it happen.

A series of benefit concerts began in 19B9. Since then, the Flaming Lips, Throwing Muses and several other bands have played in remembrance of Josh Gottheil. It gives bands the opportunity to give back a little of what Josh gave them.