The Foul Ways of Kim Fowley

No child of Los Angeles is ever “okay.” Record producer Kim Fowley is one of many examples of this fact. After suffering a long battle with bladder cancer, Fowley succumbed on January 15th, dying in the same place he was born–perhaps unspokenly bound to the confines of L.A. by his loyalty and eccentricity.

A moment of innocence
A moment of innocence
Fowley’s tendency to orbit around talent began at University High School in Santa Monica, where his fellow students included the likes of Nancy Sinatra, James Brolin and Ryan O’Neal. His first success in the music industry occurred in 1960, when he was just 21-years-old, with the release of “Alley Oop,” a song that shot to the number one spot on the charts and has remained a classic example of 60s music.
All made up
All made up
Fowley continued to put out an abundant body of work in the 1970s, producing tracks for the American Graffiti soundtrack, as well as KISS. It seemed, however, he sought to become his own version of Phil Spector, as, in 1975, he placed an ad in a magazine called Who Put the Bomp stating an interest in forming an all-female band. The response proved non-existent and it wasn’t until encountering Joan Jett and, two weeks later, drummer Sandy West around Hollywood that The Runaways started to come together.
King of the Creeps
King of the Creeps
Although Fowley was instrumental (no pun intended) in bringing The Runaways together, including the final members, Cherie Curry, Jackie Fox and Lita Ford, it was ultimately they who developed their sound and style into what made them so cultishly popular (at least in Japan). When The Runaways cut him off in 1977, a slow demise was signaled for the prolific producer. The 80s and 90s saw a steady wane in Fowley’s career, with the 00s lending him a more public position–particularly after the release of 2010’s The Runaways. In 2014, Fowley produced tracks on Ariel Pink‘s pom pom, leaving the world with a legacy that was in its finest form yet–though this isn’t to say he strayed away from his (self-admitted) Lord of Garbage status.