Version Française

Kim Fowley > bio

From "The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music" (Guiness Publishing) :

Kim Fowley is son of actor Douglas Fowley (featured player in Singin' In The Rain). Embracing music and acting at an early age, Kim Fowley first recorded with drummer Sandy Nelson in the late 1950s. But his first claim to fame came when he created the Hollywood Argyles in 1960 and topped the charts with "Alley Oop," one of pop music's most popular "novelty" tunes. Throughout the 1960s Kim became a counter-culture icon working with the likes of Frank Zappa on Freak Out, Paul Revere & the Raiders, The Byrds, The Seeds, Gene Vincent and The Beach Boys. Fowley has been active as a songwriter, producer, artist, actor, composer, dealmaker, film scorer, disc
jockey, poet and showbiz manager.
He has participated in some capacity in the making of no less than 43 gold and platinum records in his half century as a performer and showbiz "mover'n'shaker." He will without a doubt be best remembered as the man who discovered, packaged and perfected a group of rocking females (Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie) into 70's legend and punk rock predecessors The Runaways. Other acts of the 70s he either wrote songs for, managed, discovered or produced include Cat Stevens, Helen Reddy, Warren Zevon, Them, Soft Machine, Blue Oyster Cult, The Orchids, The Modern Lovers and Kiss. In fact, thinking of that silly Kevin Bacon game, one could very well play "Six Degrees of Kim Fowley" and connect virtually everyone in the music business to Mr. Fowley with no more than six degreesof separation. Try it!
Throughout it all he still continues to produce his own recordings (including a kickass 1995 collaboration with L.A. folk-rocker Ben Vaughn) as well and has a knack for being able to write a song on the spot about any topic in any style. Recently he has collaborated with the BMX Bandits on two albums and Future Pilot Aka. In 2002 Kim was featured on the last Add N To X album, on one song. Despite his shadowy persona he has grown to be a music business cult figure of legendary proportions with a small but dedicated fan following.

Kim Fowley by Barney Hoskyns, rock critic and the author of Waiting for the sun, the story of the Los Angeles scene :

By all the rules of decency, Kim Fowley should be the most contemptible leech on the face of rock'n'roll. Not once in his entire career have his commercial speculations given way to aesthetic judgement. Yet he pulls it off: his manipulations transcend cynicism and become their own source of delight. Fowley is the oldest pop pusher on the make because he's the only one doing it for its own sake. If, as he claims, he is the missing link between Orson Welles and Chuck Berry, he is also the man who in the story of pop music connects Colonel Tom Parker with Malcolm McLaren. Like Laurence Harvey in Espresso Bongo, he is a prototypal manipulator; like Phil Spector, a myth in his own lifetime. Concentrated in the six feet and five inches of his gaunt frame is the ghost of showbiz itself, clinging like a vampire from outer space to the self-repeating rituals of wheeling and dealing which put records in the charts. Kim Fowley bleeds liquid vinyl.

One can do no more than hint at the way Fowley's presence pervades the history of pop. Countless records exist to which he has nothing but publishing rights. A track on a Joan Jett LP here, a one-hit monster in Holland there. The early successes are famous: the Hollywood Argyles ('Alley-Oop'), the Murmaids ('Popsicles and Icicles'), B. Bumble & the Stingers ('Nut Rocker'). The Runaways are infamous: they gave America Joan Jett. But the following are just some of the artists for whom Fowley's services have been more tangential: Paul Revere & the Raiders, P.J. Proby, the Seeds, the Seekers, Cat Stevens, Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, Helen Reddy, Kiss, Leon Russell, and Herman Brood and if you detect a single consistent stylistic thread in that bunch I'd like to hear from you.

Fowley is ubiquitous. He handclapped on Gram Parsons' Grievous Angel, cameo'd in Stigwood's Sergeant Pepper, and emceed Live Peace In Toronto. That's without counting magnificently trashy solo albums like Animal God Off The Street and Sunset Boulevard. He also writes poetry, and his latest and finest ode to himself is 'Hollywood Trash' on Harvey Kubernik's Voices Of The Angels compilation. (All subsequent connecting quotes are taken from this epic of egotism.) [] LA Reader, June 1983