Joel Morowitz, the co-founder of 1990’s indie label spinART Records, died suddenly of cardiac arrest in Bethesda, Md., on Oct. 6. He was 55.
Morowitz and his high school friend, Jeff Price, launched spinART Records after college. Together they launched the label with the album, One Last Kiss, and eventually put out music by The Apples in Stereo, Velocity Girl, Clem Snide, Ron Sexsmith, Poster Children and Suddenly, Tammy! among many others.
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A front page story in the May 28, 1994 issue of Billboard described Morowitz and Price as “powerful A&R forces in the alternative rock subculture and their label, spinART as a proven breeding ground for new talent.” The label would eventually release over 235 artists, first independently and then with deals through Columbia Records, Giant Records and Sire Records.
“Joel turned me onto music in high school when all I had heard at that point in time was Top 40 radio,” says Price. “He introduced me to Ska and from there I went down the musical rabbit hole discovering music and artists that helped me define who I was… Without Joel, I would not have found my path in life. There would not have been spinART, TuneCore, Audiam or Word Collections.”
In an e-mail, Price remembers Morowitz as “one of the good people on the planet. Gentle, kind, caring, giving and always there to help… I will miss him and the world will be missing the sounds he brought into it.”
Morowitz is survived by his father David, sister Nancy and many friends, and predeceased by his mother Barbara. A service will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 11 AM at Washington Hebrew Congregation, 3935 Macomb Street, NW Washington, D.C. Donations in his memory may be made to Education Through Music, 122 East 42nd Street, Suite 1501, New York NY 10168; or to etmonline.org.
Tributes were paid on social media, following the news of Morowitz’s passing.
Singer/Songwriter, Renee LoBue posted a heart-felt tribute to Morowitz on Facebook:
Today we lost our dear friend, Joel Morowitz. Our brother. Our family. Our cherished loved one. We are gutted. We’ve known each other forever and have only grown closer over the years. I was blessed to have shared so much quality time with you: Dinners, phone calls, barbecues, recording sessions, microphone testing(!), art talk, birthday parties, babies (who always seemed to want to hang out with you and I … Also: now they’re taller than us!) … Life.
Here we are in NYC having a celebratory dinner for you a month ago. We were so excited to see you off the night before you embarked on your adventure trekking The Camino de Santiago through Spain, France and Portugal.
You never liked to have your photo taken. To my delight, that night you agreed.
In time, I will begin to process this great loss. I don’t understand. I do understand Love. And that sums up Joel: Pure Love.
For everyone who knew and loved Joel: Let’s lean on one another.
Joel, I love you.
Thank you for blessing my life, our lives, with the Gift of you.