He knew everyone and did everything until the very end. Most famous for producing (and introducing) Joan Jett's all-girl rock band The Runaways in the 1970s, Kim Fowley passed away Friday morning from bladder cancer. If you saw the Runaways film, which starred Kristin Stewart and Dakota Fanning, Fowley was played by Michael Shannon in glam makeup, true to character. The music industry will feel this loss. Even if you don't consider yourself a punk, you've heard the songs that Fowley was responsible for. Not only did he help create the rebellious, feminist sound of the Runaways, but he also worked and associated with KISS, Alice Cooper, Blondie and Bruce Springsteen. He was an absolute staple, and when he wasn't pursuing a solo career, he was scouting the next big thing.
In an interview with the San Diego Reader three years ago, in which he said he was "preparing for death," Fowley also spoke about the importance of the producer's role in the music industry, especially for artists who break and bend the rules.
"The behind-the-scenes people are as much a part of rock ’n’ roll as the guys onstage... Kim Fowley is a necessary evil."
Even movie-goers know Kim Fowley's work and will grieve his passing. He produced songs for the American Graffiti soundtrack. The film, which was released in the early 70s, set out to capture an older, do-wop feel. With these tracks, George Lucas popularized the trend of recent nostalgia. You could say that he, with help from artists like Fowley, created hipsters. Here is one of the songs Kim Fowley produced for the film with Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids.
The Runaways' most famous hit, which Fowley co-wrote as well, is "Cherry Bomb." It's worth noting that the song had a mainstream resurgence last year as part of the Guardians of The Galaxy soundtrack, which introduced Fowley's work to a new generation as well.
Recently, Kim Fowley appeared in a Beyoncé video. That's right! It's no surprise that a man who once held "Battle of the Girl Bands" in a male-driven industry would align himself with one of today's most powerful female voices. You can find him as an extra in the video for "Haunted," which appears on her self-titled visual album between "Pretty Hurts" and "Drunk In Love."
Forever a champion of female artists, here is a one-hit-wonder he produced with "The Murmaids" in 1963.
I'll leave you with this quote from the same San Diego Reader interview. Rest in peace, Kim Fowley. You will be missed.
"Death is a juicy topic. It's like nudity and drugs. It's right up there with LOL, cats and puppies. It's an American tradition, just like Disney and chocolate."