R.I.P. Kim Fowley

Kim Fowley — the musician, writer, and producer who was best known as the manager of the Runaways — died earlier today after a long battle with bladder cancer. He was 75.

Fowley made a name for himself in the 1960s as a co-producer on the chart-topping novelty song “Alley Oop” (which was credited to the faux group the Hollywood Argyles), and in addition to releasing solo albums he worked with artists like Paul Revere And The Raiders, the Murmaids, KISS, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell, and Kris Kristofferson throughout that decade. He would go on to manage the Runaways in 1975, introducing Joan Jett to the world, though they would sever ties with him two years later due to his often abrasive management style. (He was portrayed by Michael Shannon in the 2010 biopic The Runaways.) He would later produce Runaways member Cherie Currie’s debut album after she left the band, but it was never released. In the 1980s, he served mainly as a talent scout and producer, promoting bands such as the Innocents, Candy, Steel Breeze, and Shanghai.

In his later years, he was still active as both a producer and performer. He also hosted a weekend show on Sirius Satellite Radio. After being featured in the 2003 documentary Mayor Of Sunset Strip, he tried out filmmaking and won a special jury prize from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in 2012 for one of his feature films Golden Road To Nowhere and Black Room.

Fowley reunited with Currie in 2008 after she learned of his fight with cancer, and she would go on to take care of him. He remained active until his death. In his hospital bed, he co-wrote “Jell-O,” “Plastic Raincoats In The Pig Parade,” and several other songs with Ariel Pink, all of which would later appear on Pink’s 2014 album pom pom. He appeared in Beyoncé’s music video for “Haunted.”

Part of his legacy is the concert behavior of holding up lighters for an artist. Foley brought John Lennon to the Toronto Rock And Roll Revival in 1969 and encouraged the audience to hold up their matches and lighters to welcome him.

“Kim Fowley is a big loss to me,” E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt said in a statement. “A good friend. One of a kind. He’d been everywhere, done everything, knew everybody. He was working in the Underground Garage [his satellite radio show] until last week. We should all have as full a life.”

[Photo by Michael Putland/Hulton Archive.]