Kim Fowley, Runaways producer and svengali, dies aged 75

Fowley had been battling bladder cancer for several years

Kim Fowley, the legendary manager and music producer behind the Runaways, has died aged 75 after a long battle with bladder cancer.

Fowley rose to prominence in the ’60s after working with several big name acts including Gene Vincent, KISS, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. As recently as last year, he collaborated with Ariel Pink on Pink’s ‘Pom Pom’ album.

Fowley famously recruited the Runaways in 1975 by placing an advertisement in Los Angeles fanzine Who Put the Bomp, and ended up producing the band’s 1976 self-titled debut album and co-wroting their biggest hit ‘Cherry Bomb’. “I didn’t put the Runaways together, I had an idea, they had ideas, we all met, there was combustion and out of five different versions of that group came the five girls who were the ones that people liked,” Fowley later said of the partnership. The producer parted with the group in 1977 over a disagreement.

Fowler had his first US Number One in 1960 with ‘Alley Opp’, a song he recorded with Gary S Paxton under the name the Hollywood Argyles. In 1962, he made UK Number one as the writer of B Bumble and the Stingers’ ‘Nut Rocker’. Foley is also known for bringing John Lennon to the Toronto Rock And Roll Revival in 1969 and telling the audience to hold up their matches and lighters to welcome him onstage, creating the now-popular act of holding up lighters for artists during a performance.

“Kim Fowley is a big loss to me,” E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt said (via Rolling Stone). “A good friend. One of a kind. He’d been everywhere, done everything, knew everybody. He was working in the Underground Garage [Van Zandt’s online radio station] until last week. We should all have as full a life. I wanted DJs that could tell stories first person. He was the ultimate realisation of that concept. Rock Gypsy DNA. Reinventing himself whenever he felt restless. Which was always. One of the great characters of all time. Irreplaceable.”