Kim Fowley, Producer And Rock Svengali, Dies

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Kim Fowley, Producer And Rock Svengali, Dies

Postby radiofan » Sat Jan 17, 2015 7:26 pm

Kim Fowley, Producer And Rock Svengali, Dies
JANUARY 16, 201512:43 PM ET
Neda Ulaby NPR


Kim Fowley, one of rock and roll's great svengalis and the man who helped form the all-girl band The Runaways, has died. He had been undergoing cancer treatments, but no cause of death has been announced. He was 75.

Checkered barely begins to describe Kim Fowley's long, crazy career in music. He was a songwriter, manager, producer, promoter and scenester. Back in the early 1960s, he helped put together a novelty song for the R&B group The Rivingtons. And he worked on the No. 1 hit "Alley Oop" by The Hollywood Argyles. Fowley wrote or produced or popped up in songs for Cat Stevens, Frank Zappa, The Byrds and his own weird late '60s album Outrageous.

Fowley was an orphan of Hollywood. His mother, a struggling actress, abandoned him to foster homes repeatedly. He suffered from polio as a child and the disease marked him physically and emotionally. But in the 1970s, he became known for arranging and producing songs for the movie American Graffiti, and writing for Alice Cooper, Helen Reddy and Kiss.

Fowley was over six feet tall with freakishly long arms and legs. He was a flamboyant king of the Sunset Strip, then a louche intersection where glam and hair metal crashed into punk. Rock stars cavorted with underage groupies in the parking lots of nightclubs like the Sugar Shack. Fowley trawled the scene in peach colored jumpsuits and kabuki-style makeup.

"He was probably a predator," says rock critic Evelyn McDonnell, who wrote a book called Queens of Noise: The Real Story of The Runaways. "You know he was looking for talent and he was looking for prey."

One night, Fowley met a 14-year-old who wanted to be in an all-girl band. Fowley loved the idea. In 1975, he helped assemble a group of 15-, 16- and 17-year-old musicians. In a documentary about the Runaways called Edgeplay, Fowley, who liked to call himself the band's pimp, fondly described his vision.

"Runaways were strong," Fowley said. "They were Amazons. They were part of the Amazon culture. Runaways were not T&A. Runaways were a sports team with musical instruments and teenage lyrics."

Still, Fowley was not above playing sexually charged power games with his teenaged Amazons or having the 15-year-old lead singer perform in fishnets and a bustier.

Read the full story at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2015 ... ngali-dies
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