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 after college in the early 1990’s when the former wanted to put out a compilation album of indie rock bands and the latter asked if he could help. The resulting album, One Last Kiss, launched the label which eventually put out music by The Apples in Stereo, Velocity Girl, Clem Snide, Ron Sexsmith, Poster Children and Suddenly, Tammy! among many others.
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.”
After spinART Morowitz started and ran Ecstatic Electric, which sold and rented high-end vintage musical gear and vintage microphones. In 2010, Morowitz told SonicScoop.com “I’ve always really loved the technology side of making records. After spinART [which closed in 2007] I really wanted to find a way to work in the field,” which is how the above business started with music equipment left over from the label’s days.
According to his family, Morowitz was a “luminous soul, a brilliant wit, a quietly fierce intellect, an impeccable connoisseur of art and music, and the world’s most sensitive detector of BS [Bull Shit].” Moreover, they posit he was a true “pinball wizard, and that he claimed to be the long-standing pin-ball high score holder” at the defunct NYC club CBGB’s.
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.