Kim Fowley’s Tribute Show was good, but the guy I could do without.
By Reviewer Rob
I fucking hated Kim Fowley before I ever met him, which thankfully I never did. As a pre-teen in the early 1970’s I’d heard his cover on the radio of “They’re Coming To Take Me Away (HaHa!)”, and even at that impressionable age was annoyed by the forced-kookiness and infantile tempo sent through the speakers. That an adult sang it annoyed me. That this pseudo-juvenilia was on the radio so often annoyed me. I couldn’t see the appeal. Thirty years passed before I found out the late Kim Fowley sang a cover of the song. I said I never met him but that’s not entirely true. I spoke with Fowley over the phone. About ten years ago he found my number in a copy of Reviewer, cold-calling me for publicity, to polish his star or something. He blathered on pompously with resume points about how he was an important music industry fiigure and this and that, probably throwing the Runaways in there, but when he mentioned the article on him in UGLY THINGS it rang a bell. I realized I knew of him. The strange conversation may have been relatively brief for Fowley but seemed to go on way too long for me. Great, a self-promoting music scene booster from an era long-passed. I disliked his egotistical monotone and how he’d not wait for a reply to be finished. I attempted to draw the call to a polite close so I could get back to work but he became irate and tried to insult me and made vague threats. I laughed and said goodbye a few times and told him I was going to hang up now as he continued talking. So famous yet clearly a goddam asshole. Fowley was perfect for the 1960’s. The 70’s band he helped create, The Runaways, were a safe alternative to the scary drugged-out hippie chicks of the post-Manson era. But he was stuck in that time. Only recently did I read that he walked with a cane, apparently partly handicapped by childhood polio, and that his Hollywood-society mother “dropped him off” at a polio hospital when he was young. Maybe this created abandonment issues in poor little Kim or led to him becoming a persistent networker in the worldwide music scene. Anyway, Kim Fowley’s still remembered.
On April 26th there was a Tribute To Kim Fowley show at The Casbah with several bands, including True Stories, Roni Lee, and The Rosalyns. The Loons and The Schizophonics were the ones I saw and they had great sets. Mike Stax, the publisher of UGLY THINGS who wrote the aforementioned article, put it well when he said Fowley’s most enduring quote was “Stay teenage – stay rock and roll”. I guess when you don’t have much that’s a lot.
Editors note: this version of the article has been updated to include Fowley’s “cover” of They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!, originally written and performed by Jerry Samuels, billed as Napoleon XIX. Kim Fowley is not the song’s author as previously implied.