On January 15, music impresario, artist and producer Kim Fowley died at age 75 in Los Angeles. Fowley famously discovered and produced The Runaways and co-wrote their biggest hit, “Cherry Bomb,” and was one of music’s great eccentrics, a chatty raconteur who could go on for hours at a time (as he did in several interviews I conducted with him). He was a font of information with strong opinions on Hollywood and music including garage psychedelia, bubblegum, glam rock and early punk, topics he discussed on his SiriusXM radio show on Little Steven’s Garage channel. Kim Fowley will be missed.
Fowley grew up in Hollywood (his father was B-movie actor Douglas Fowley) and was part of the late 1950s/early 1960’s novelty song movement, putting together and launching bands that scored massive one-off smashes (namely Hollywood Argyles’ "Alley Oop” and the Rivingtons’ "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow”). He appeared on Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s Freak Out!, wrote songs for the Byrds and the Beach Boys and produced records for Gene Vincent – all before making the first in a series of strange yet magnetic solo albums such as 1967’s Love Is Alive and Well, 1968's Born to Be Wild and 1973's International Heroes.
During the 1970s, Fowley produced Helen Reddy and penned songs with Kiss and Alice Cooper. He continued writing throughout his career, and in 2014 co-authored songs on Ariel Pink's Pom Pom album. Nothing was more famous, though, than his tenure with The Runaways, which began in the mid-1970s. It was a relationship that had its rocky moments (the band and Fowley sued each other for royalties), but wound up his most enduring partnership as Runaways Lita Ford and Cherie Currie recorded with him last year. Billboard reported that when Fowley began receiving cancer treatments in 2014, it was Currie who took care of him.
During my conversations with Fowley – three separate sessions in the late 1990s and early 2000s, two that took place after midnight – he spoke about his career and relationships, long into wee hours of the morning, seemingly never taking a breath. He spoke of projects he wanted to do, the money he wanted to make, looking for new acts to break… Kim Fowley was tireless.
For more on Kim Fowley visit KimFowley.com.
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2015