Andy Kotowicz, 37, Sub Pop Records executive, dies after accident
The world of independent rock music was shocked last week as news spread of the death of Andy Kotowicz, a revered and much-loved executive at Seattle's internationally famous independent label, Sub Pop Records.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The world of independent rock music was shocked last week as news spread of the sudden death of Andy Kotowicz, a revered and much-loved executive at Seattle's internationally famous independent label, Sub Pop Records.
Sub Pop put Seattle music on the map in the late '80s with the grunge band Nirvana.
Mr. Kotowicz was the victim of a car accident in Ballard last Thursday, when a fast-moving car rear-ended his Subaru, shoving it into a pickup. Mr. Kotowicz was taken to Harborview Hospital but died Sunday from his injuries. He was 37.
Mr. Kotowicz's 3-year-old daughter, Anna, was rescued from the vehicle by Kenny Johnson, owner of Rizzo's French Dip, a nearby sandwich shop.
The staff at Sub Pop was reeling at the loss of a close friend and colleague.
"People like Andy Kotowicz don't come around more than once in a lifetime," said Megan Jasper, managing director of the label.
Mr. Kotowicz was vice president of sales and marketing and also scouted new bands.
He was known for his wide-ranging knowledge and contagious enthusiasm for all kinds of music, from Sub Pop's industrial-noise group, Wolf Eyes, to mainstream pop acts such as Beyoncé.
"He was a true believer," said Sub Pop General Manager Chris Jacobs.
Mr. Kotowicz championed alternative music but thoroughly understood the commercial machinations of the record industry.
"He knew radio, he knew publicity, he knew retail and he had an extraordinary talent in how it all worked together," said Jasper.
He was crucial, she said, to the resurrection of the 22-year-old label, which, after its first flush of success, had gone downhill. After Mr. Kotowicz was hired in 2000, Sub Pop had major successes with bands such as the Shins, Fleet Foxes, Postal Service, Mudhoney (which had left the label but came back) and the comedy duo, Flight of the Conchords, which won a Grammy Award.
Matt Vaughan, owner of Seattle's Easy Street Records, said Mr. Kotowicz was a "humble and modest guy" who lacked the "attitude" of many music-business folks, and often could be found in the store, simply looking for a new musical discovery.
"He was the greatest ambassador Sub Pop ever had," said Vaughan.
Mr. Kotowicz was known for his quick wit, encyclopedic memory, good cheer, love of good food — lowbrow or highbrow — and a knack for mimicry.
The comedian Don Rickles was a favorite. Mr. Kotowicz often opened conversations with Rickles' line, "Hey gang."
Mr. Kotowicz was born in 1972 in Ann Arbor, Mich., where his early musical influences included the raw sounds of Michigan groups such as John Sinclair's MC5 and Iggy Pop.
After graduating from Kenyon College, in Ohio, he worked for Sponge Bath Records, in Tennessee, then for KOCH and Razor and Tie, in New York. He told friends working at Sub Pop was his "dream job." He was wearing a Mudhoney T-shirt when he was 19.
Mr. Kotowicz's death prompted an outpouring of memories on a Facebook page in his honor, which by Wednesday had nearly 300 posts from all over the country.
Mr. Kotowicz is survived by his wife, Jocelyn Boyea Kotowicz, of Seattle; his daughter, Anna; his sister, Madeline Kotowicz, of Bozeman, Mont.; his parents, Bill and Michele Kotowicz, of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and his grandparents, Frances and James Whittaker, of Ann Arbor, Mich.
A memorial service with musical performances is scheduled at 1 p.m. Monday at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle. Donations can also be made to the Andy Kotowicz Family Foundation, c/o Sub Pop Records, 2013 Fourth Ave., Third Floor, Seattle, WA 98121 or delivered to Sound Community Bank (www.soundcb.com/home/cu/loc).
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