Kim Vincent Fowley (July 21, 1939 – January 15, 2015) was an American record producer, singer and musician. He is best known for his role behind a string of novelty and cult pop rock singles in the 1960s, and for managing The Runaways in the 1970s.
In addition, he is credited with being the inspiration behind promoter John Brower’s call to John Lennon that resulted in the last-minute appearance of the Plastic Ono Band at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival on September 13, 1969, where Fowley was the emcee. At this event, Fowley also created the iconic experience of having the audience light matches and lighters to welcome a nervous John Lennon to the stage.
He has been described as “one of the most colorful characters in the annals of rock & roll” and as “a shadowy cult figure well outside the margins of the mainstream.”
Born in Los Angeles, Fowley was the son of character actor Douglas Fowley and actress Shelby Payne. He attended University High School at the same time as singers Jan Berry and Dean Torrence (later of Jan and Dean fame), Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Johnston (later of the Beach Boys), as well as actors Ryan O’Neal, James Brolin and Sandra Dee. In 1957, he was hospitalized with polio but, on his release, became manager and publicist for a local band The Sleepwalkers which included Johnston, drummer Sandy Nelson and, occasionally, Phil Spector. He spent some time in the armed forces and, by his own account, also worked in the sex industry in Los Angeles in the late 1950s. In 1959, he began working in the music industry in various capacities for both Alan Freed and Berry Gordy. His first record as producer was “Charge” by the Renegades, a group comprising Johnston, Nelson, Nik Venet and Richard Podolor. He also promoted records for the duo Skip & Flip (Clyde Battin and Gary S. Paxton) including the # 11 hit “Cherry Pie”.
During the early 1960s, Fowley was involved, as co-producer/co-publisher, with a string of successful records produced in Los Angeles. With Gary S. Paxton, he recorded the novelty song “Alley Oop”, which reached # 1 on the charts in 1960 and was credited to the non-existent group the Hollywood Argyles. In 1961, he co-produced the instrumental “Like, Long Hair”, arranged by Paxton, which became a # 38 hit for Paul Revere and the Raiders. He also wrote “Nut Rocker”, for B. Bumble and the Stingers, which became a # 1 hit in the UK in 1962; and talent scouted “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow”, a # 48 hit for the Rivingtons. The following year, he produced “Popsicles and Icicles” by the Murmaids, which reached # 3 in the charts in 1963 and which was written by a pre-Bread David Gates, then a session musician and songwriter who had met Fowley while Kim was hitchhiking in Los Angeles.
In 1973, Fowley produced three recordings by Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids for the film American Graffiti (1973). These songs were “At the Hop”, “Louie Louie” and “She’s So Fine”. He also co-wrote songs for KISS, Helen Reddy, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell and Kris Kristofferson. He also made recordings with Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, which were eventually released in 1981 as The Original Modern Lovers; Fowley’s tracks were not included on the original versions of the album The Modern Lovers, but some were included on later CD reissues.
In 1974, Fowley placed an advertisement in local fanzine Who Put the Bomp looking for female performers. He hoped to form an all-girl group that he could produce and would perform his songs, but no one responded to the advert. In 1975, he met the teenage guitarist Joan Jett who expressed interest in forming an all-girl band. Less than two weeks later, he met 15-year-old drummer Sandy West who introduced herself outside of the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood, California. West told Fowley of her aspirations to form an all-girl band after playing in all male groups. This meeting led to Fowley giving West Jett’s phone number. The two met and began playing together at West’s home the following week. A short time later, Fowley recruited Lita Ford, Cherie Currie and Jackie Fox. They eventually became the Runaways. While he did produce some of their albums and contributed lyrics to songs, the band was primarily responsible for creating their own music. The group severed their ties with Fowley in 1977.
In 1976 Fowley co-wrote the songs “King of the Night Time World” and “Do You Love Me” for the 1976 KISS-album Destroyer, with Paul Stanley and producer Bob Ezrin.
In 2008, Fowley was reunited with Cherie Currie at Houdini’s mansion in Los Angeles. He also played three dozen gigs between June 2007 and February 2009 as the act Crazy White Man, a duo featuring him on vocals and Richard Rogers on guitar. The bulk of the Crazy White Man shows took place during 2008 and included the Tribute to Gidget Gein which raised funds for Gidget’s Hollywood Forever memorial.
Capitol rereleased several of his titles, and director Guy Ritchie used his song “The Trip” in the 2008 film RocknRolla. Fowley was recently regularly heard on Sirius Satellite Radio with a four-hour show on Saturdays and Sundays.
Currie wrote a memoir of her time in the Runaways, and it was turned into a film, The Runaways, which was released on March 19, 2010. It featured Kristen Stewart playing Jett, and Dakota Fanning portraying Currie. Michael Shannon played the part of Fowley.
In 2012, Fowley won the Special Jury Prize at the 13th Melbourne Underground Film Festival for his two feature projects – Golden Road to Nowhere and Black Room Doom. In 2014 he also made an appearance in Beyoncé’s music video “Haunted”.
Kim Fowley released the first part of his autobiography, Lord of Garbage, published by Kicks Books, in 2012. It covers the years 1939–1969 and describes his early childhood and beginning years in the music business. The second installment of his autobiography will be called Planet Pain and will cover the years 1970–1994. The last part of his autobiography was intended to be finished on his deathbed and released posthumously. On September 24, 2014, Fowley married longtime girlfriend and music executive Kara Wright in a private ceremony in Los Angeles.
Fowley died of bladder cancer in West Hollywood, California, on January 15, 2015 at the age of 75.
This article was shortened. Go here for the full article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Fowley
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
21: Waldemar Kmentt, 85, Austrian operatic tenor; Kemal Monteno, 66, Bosnian singer – songwriter, pneumonia and sepsis.
20: Canserbero, 26, Venezuelan rapper, suicide by jumping.
19: Vera Gornostayeva, 85, Russian pianist and piano teacher; Ward Swingle, 87, American musician (The Swingle Singers, Les Double Six).
18: ASAP Yams, 26, American rapper (death announced on this date); Cynthia Layne, 51, American jazz singer, cancer; Dallas Taylor, 66, American drummer (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).
17: Gobinda Halder, 84, Indian lyricist and composer, kidney failure; Origa, 44, Russian singer (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), lung cancer.
16: Michael Gehrke, 58, German music impresario and tour manager (Scorpions); Yao Beina, 33, Chinese singer, breast cancer.
15: Ervin Drake, 95, American songwriter (“It Was a Very Good Year”, “I Believe”, “Good Morning Heartache”), bladder cancer; Kim Fowley, 75, American record producer, band manager (The Runaways), impresario and musician, bladder cancer; Jochen Hülder, 57, German music impresario and band manager (Die Toten Hosen).
13: Ronnie Ronalde, 91, British music hall singer and siffleur; Trevor Ward-Davies, 70, British bassist (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich), cancer.