Randall Roberts

Under Appreciated


In a second article called “Kim Fowley Rocked an Industry as a Salesman of Unruly Sounds” that SunHerald.com included on their website, Randall Roberts writes:  “Fowley reveled in being the bad guy.  His business model was similar from the start:  Record music using unknown bands in by-the-hour studios and then pawn the songs.  If it didn’t hit, discard the band and song and try again.  Indie labels were desperate for records to feed the dozens of independent Southern California distributors shipping product across America.  Kids were crazy for 45s, and the music that filled them had to come from somewhere.” 


In a quote from this article, Kim Fowley describes the early days of rock and roll as being a lot like the Wild West:  “You could sell any tape for $100, and there was no playing clubs for guys in suits.  We were kids running amok in studios like rappers do now, except the rappers have attorneys.  We were all thieves – there was no (expletive) about art or integrity or sensitivity.  People were willing to pay us to do it . . . and keep doing it, and we were addicted to the process.”  


Randall Roberts writes of a story about Kim Fowley in Barney Hoskyns’ book on Los Angeles pop music, Waiting for the Sun:  “[Kim Fowley] exaggerated history and his role in it, and his competitiveness knew no bounds.  Longtime music mogul Lou Adler described to Hoskyns a particular encounter with Fowley:  ‘I once made him open up his suitcase, and there was nothing in it, which sums him up.’”  


Randall Roberts offers a glimpse of the exploitive side of Kim Fowley in his article:  “Most infamously, Fowley formed the all-girl rock band the Runaways, a relationship that delivered fame and success for the band while confirming Fowley’s avowed sleaziness. The band’s Cherie Currie, for example, accused him of holding a ‘sex education class’ for some of the teen girls – a charge Fowley denied.  (Currie and Fowley later reconciled.)” 


(January 2015/1)


Last edited: March 22, 2021