Rock producer and demented genius Kim Fowley, who worked with everyone from Berry Gordy to GG Allin, and famously managed The Runaways, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 75. In September 2014, Billboard reported that Fowley had been receiving cancer treatments and that Runaways frontwoman Cherie Currie, with whom he had been in legal battles over royalties for years, had been caring for him (a testament to his charisma).
“I am so blessed that I had the chance to know you again, Kim, really get to know you on a personal level and that we became friends,” Currie wrote in her Facebook remembrance. “Mostly that you spent time here at my home. It’s a time I will never forget.”
Kim was born in LA, attended high school with Nancy Sinatra, Sandra Dee, and Ryan O’Neal (!), then worked briefly in the sex industry in the late ’50s (!) before releasing the novelty song “Alley Oop!” (which reached # 1 on the charts in 1960). He then went on to write and produce for the likes of Paul Revere and the Raiders, KISS, Helen Reddy, Alice Cooper, Lita Ford, Gene Vincent, Leon Russell and Kris Kristofferson over the course of his 50 year career.
“Kim Fowley is a big loss to me,” E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt said in a statement. “A good friend. One of a kind. He’d been everywhere, done everything, knew everybody. He was working in the Underground Garage until last week. We should all have as full a life. I wanted DJs that could tell stories first person. He was the ultimate realization of that concept. Rock Gypsy DNA. Reinventing himself whenever he felt restless. Which was always. One of the great characters of all time. Irreplaceable.”
“Kim was a great and often misunderstood individual,” Blondie drummer Clem Burke said in a statement. “When Blondie first came to Hollywood Kim was one of the legends we wanted to meet. We did meet him at the Tropicana motel and became friends. I had the privilege of sitting next to Kim at a screening at SXSW of the Runaways film. When it ended, I turned to Kim and told him he was the hero of the film. He seemed happy to hear that.”
Kim was a near-ubiquitous presence on the LA club scene since the absolute BEGINNING of the LA club scene and will definitely be missed.
Further reading: His obituary in The Guardian (Headline: “He Was Punk Before Punk”)