Kim Fowley, the eccentric music producer and Svengali who created and managed the all-female rock group the Runaways in the 1970s and worked with everyone from Frank Zappa to KISS, died Thursday after a long battle with bladder cancer. He was 75.
Fowley was at least as colorful as any of the musicians he worked with going back to the 1960s in L.A., where a vibrant rock music scene attracted many of the most creative and most idiosyncratic characters imaginable.
Fowley, born July 21, 1939, in Los Angeles to actor-parents Douglas Fowley and Shelby Payne, scored his first chart success producing the 1960 single “Cherry Pie” for Gary Paxton and Skip Battin, aka Skip & Flip. Fowley continued working with Paxton when they created the Hollywood Argyles band, which charted a No. 1 hit, also in 1960, with the song “Alley Oop.”
He went on to write or produce songs for a range of musicians including the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Gene Vincent, Helen Reddy and Warren Zevon. He also recorded a string of solo albums under his own name.