Kim Fowley died January 15 in Los Angeles, but his memory lives on in the thousands of recordings he produced, wrote or influenced during more than five decades
By Harvey Kubernik
Kim Vincent Fowley loved music recordings as much as anyone who devours RCN.
For over a half century, he listened to demo recordings, tapes, test pressings, acetates, 456 Ampex big reel boxes, cassettes and mp3s trying to find the melodic nugget that could get on the radio and also create a revenue stream — not just for himself, but for everyone. His name is all over your record collection if you dig hard and check out the credits and liner notes — a lot more than you realize.
I am so proud that Kim always participated in all my books during unfiltered interviews. He introduced me to Rene Hall, Jerry Wexler and Etta James, among others. Kim let me and few others inside his fascinating and complicated life and strife world.
They do not reissue people like Kim Vincent Fowley.
Other musicians, deejays, writers and record producers who have sent me emails of support after learning of Kim’s physical passing, all familiar to RCN readers, would certainly agree with me. The following are just a few of those remembrances of Fowley.
“Kim was a great and often misunderstood individual. 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 real rocker. Knew everything and about any record from the artist to the music publisher’s email and address. He believed in rock ‘n’ roll. A tough exterior, many of us know he had a heart of gold while helping introduce many new artists and songwriters over 55 years. Even at the end he was making deals left and right while still recording his radio show for Little Steven’s Underground Garage and constantly reviewing new band demos and album and CD releases.”
“A constellation of talents, Kim Fowley’s dazzling, spontaneous creativity remains unequaled. Whether in the jungle of the Sunset Strip or boardrooms of entertainment companies or in the lens of a 35mm camera, his presence always heightened our trajectories. A family friend and ally, he worked with our GNP Crescendo record label for over 50 years. I was in awe of his immortal performance in my new Seeds documentary. It anchored the whole project, which turned out to be his last film appearance. We will miss Kim’s humor and relentless skills. His contributions will endure.”
“Kim Fowley transcended trends. He was a creative chameleon as a songwriter and producer. He could brilliantly create on the spot. He really taught me how to have fun with music, while being in the music business. And hey, he opened up a whole new world for female rockers with The Runaways. As usual, he was always on time about being ahead of his time.”
“I have known Kim Fowley since the 1960’s and we have been good friends ever since. He always called me his big brother, even though he was older than me, and we had many heartfelt talks on the phone in the early mornings. He always said, ‘You are the only other guy I know who is up until 3 or 4 am who I can call.’ He was supremely intelligent and a rock ‘n’ roll scholar of the highest order. I will miss him greatly.”
Andrew Loog Oldham:
“One of the first who smelled something going on in ‘63 and came to England. He and Paul Simon turned up in London around the same time. Kim Fowley, a leader of that American brigade and a forever part of American music.”