Kim Fowley: Sins & Secrets of the Silver Sixties

by admin  16th Jan 2015 Comments [2828]

R.I.P. Kim Fowley, an authentic (self proclaimed) Living Legend. Today (January 15, 2015) he became simply A Legend. We visited Kim just a few weeks ago, and I knew then, as he did, that it would be our last goodbye. But Kim was a man who defined himself with his art, with his music, and we will always have that. Kim Fowley will always be with us.

Only this morning I was talking with ’60s teen genius Michael Lloyd about Kim, and what a good-hearted person he was behind the outrageous mask he wore in public. “That’s not him,” agreed Michael. “I’ve seen that since I was 13. That’s just a persona.” It was one hell of a persona. But once you knew him better, he was also one hell of a person. A true friend. Kim’s last words to me: “Stay teenage. Stay rock & roll.” 

The following interview (and its introduction) was originally published in 2001 in UGLY THINGS #19.

 

Introduction by Mike Stax

Kim Fowley is an authentic Living Legend. He’d be the first to tell you that. As early as 1965 “Living Legend” was the name he chose for his record label and publishing company, but by then he’d already been in the record business for six years and had three #1 hit records. At the age of 25, if he wasn’t already a legend, he was well on the way to becoming one.

The son of movie actor Douglas Fowley, Kim was 19 years old on February 3, 1959 when he learned of the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper while walking to the Business School he was enrolled in at the time. Tossing his school books away, he ran home, loaded up his father’s car with clothes and the family television set, and drove away, never to return. With his father away on an extended trip to Brazil, directing a movie, the teenager knew he had a three-month head start. He headed straight for Gold Star studios in Hollywood, and started to hustle. He hasn’t stopped hustling since.

Kim had actually been involved in rock’n’roll even earlier. At Uni High School in West LA his fellow students included Jan & Dean, Dick & DeeDee, Sandy Nelson and future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, with whom Kim was writing songs as early as 1957.

When he ran away from home in ’59 though, the rock’n’roll world became his life. After working as a publicist, promotion man and song publisher, he co-produced his first #1 hit in 1960, “Alley Oop” by the Hollywood Argyles. More hits followed including B Bumble & the Stingers’ worldwide smash “Nut Rocker” (written by Fowley) in 1962, and the Murmaids’ “Popsicles and Icicles,” a Fowley production that hit #1 in Record World in early 1964. The rest of the decade saw him involved with a multitude of projects in a multitude of roles: PJ Proby, the Hellions (with Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi), the Lancasters (with Richie Blackmore), the Mothers of Invention, Cat Stevens, the N’Betweens (later to become Slade), the Belfast Gypsies, Soft Machine, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and Gene Vincent, to name just a few.

He also began a strange and remarkable career as a solo artist, creating a body of work that encompasses the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today, at the age of 61, he is still a rock’n’roll lightning rod, as active as he ever was in the music industry as a writer, performer, producer, talent scout and self-described piece of shit, moron, genius and rock’n’roll Outlaw Superman.

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The Radiators From Space Story, Part 3: Troubled Pilgrims

by admin  24th Jun 2014 Comments [1766]

By Brian Neavyn

 

The arrival of the Radiators From Space on the Dublin scene as punk emerged was followed in early 1977 by their super-charged debut single “Television Screen.” Their move to London that autumn without lead singer Steve Rapid coincided with the release of their red hot album TV Tube Heart. On this evidence the band were very much a contributor to the new punk rock sound. This early period and the band’s interaction with the London punk scene is covered in detail in UT#35. Linking up with producer Tony Visconti as the year ended, opened up possibilities for songwriters Philip Chevron and Pete Holidai. They grasped the opportunity to pursue a musical path that their earlier pre-punk music influences determined. In early 1978, the Radiators (re-named) launched their radical new sound. The powerful and catchy glam-pop single “Million Dollar Hero” very nearly broke into the charts and was the appetizer for their unique Ghostown album, which was recorded in summer 1978.

However the punk scene was changing and developing so rapidly month by month that all acts associated with the early ‘76/’77 scene faced an uncertain reception. For the Radiators, much of their punk fanbase had peeled away by the time Ghostown was released over a year later. The delayed release did not help their cause and the band broke up in early 1981. Despite two project-focused but brief activities in the late 1980s the Radiators from Space were no more. UT#36 carries the story of the Ghostown album. The album’s literary references were woven with criticism of the state and in particular the church. This story also covers the release in 1989 of the single “Under Clery’s Clock” where Phil Chevron, in revealing his homosexuality, wrote of the dating experience of a young gay man.

Throughout the ‘90s their musical legacy attracted an ever growing international interest. The Radiators From Space reformed in late 2003 to play a Joe Strummer tribute concert. Guitarists Phil Chevron and Pete Holidai were joined for the show by original singer Steve Rapid and a new rhythm section of Cait O’Riordan on bass and Gareth Averill (Steve’s son) on drums.

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The Making of Think Pink

by admin  28th Feb 2014 Comments [907]

An Interview with John “Twink” Alder by Augustus Payne

 

Could you tell me about the events leading up to the recording of the Think Pink. It was nearing the end of your tenure with the Pretty Things, correct?

 I was playing drums for the Pretty Things and at that time, early to mid ’69, I and other members of the Pretties, had been hanging out with Steve Peregrin Took and members of the Deviants. We had performed a number of shows together and would often go out partying afterwards. I became very interested in the Deviants community spirit and began to attend their recording sessions (the last album) and photo sessions, etc.

In June ‘69 Mick Farren invited me to meet Seymour Stein and Richard Gottehrer of Sire Records, a US record label who had released the Tomorrow album in the States (the band I was in before the Pretties). We met and a deal was struck there and then for album from Twink with Mick Farren as producer. The album was recorded in July 1969 and at the end of the month my last show with the Pretty Things was at the Isle of Wight Festival (Bob Dylan also played). There was still some work to be done on Think Pink, i.e. mixing, which was done with Steve Peregrin Took and Richard Gottehrer in attendance, after I returned from a two-week holiday in Portugal in August or September.

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