“Kim Fowley is a machine.” So says… well, Kim Fowley.
But the music impresario — creator and svengali of the Runaways, producer/writer with Kiss, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Gene Vincent, the Hollywood Argyles and many more — is proving that may be the case less than two weeks removed from bladder cancer recall surgery.
Fowley — who had posted a farewell video on YouTube prior to the Feb. 21 surgery — hit the stage on Wednesday (Feb. 29) for an unplugged-style set at the 15th Annual Metro Times Blowout festival in Detroit, playing a half-hour’s worth of songs composed earlier that day with the Psychedelic Dogs, an all-star troupe that included members of the Electric 6, the Dirtbombs and Outrageous Cherry. Fowley first worked with some those musicians in a 1997 session that yielded songs such as “Michigan Babylon” and the unreleased album “Culture of Despair.” He’ll be doing some more writing and recording with the group and will also perform again on Saturday (March 3), this time with a full electric presentation including the Canyons of Your Mind horn section.
“Kim Fowley is 72 years old; I was probably the oldest person in the building” during the Blowout performance, he tells Billboard.com. “And I was one of the best performers last night. The Rolling Stones, when they were 20, were doing 60-year-old men’s music. So why can’t a 72-year-old man go the other way do 20-year-olds’ music?”
Fowley isn’t sure what will become of the new material, although he’s also working with onetime Fortune Records R&B/blues singer Andre Williams on his new album.
As for being out and about so soon after surgery, Fowley explains that he’s “a four-time cancer survivor, two-time polio survivor, nine-time pneumonia survivor who suffers with vertigo, hence the cane. I’ve been a handicapped music and movie professional since 1946, when I was a child actor and got polio for the first time. I interact with illness the way you interact with taking the trash out.”
Fowley’s certainly not letting it slow him down. After Detroit he’s headed to Europe for some performances with dominatrix/model/director Snow Mercy, his latest “focus artist.” After that he’ll be attending the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, for the premiere of the documentary “Sunset Strip” — one of seven films he’s appearing in, including documentaries on Bert Berns, the BMX Bandits, Dick Dale and the Seeds as well as a W.B. Yeats tribute in Australia. He’s also been featured recently in VH1 Classic’s “Metal Evolution” and in TV documentaries in Sweden and Australia.
Fowley is also prepping for the April publication of “Lord of the Garbage,” a book of his poetry since 1957 as well as prose writing Fowley did about his cancer treatments. “I’ve had other books out, but this one is the big one,” he says. Mick Collins of the Dirtbombs plans to set eight of the poems to music and release them on two EPs through Norton Records, Fowley adds.
“I’m a cash bow. I’m a money machine. I’m a money animal,” notes Fowley, who’s also planning some April performances with Snow Mercy in Los Angeles. “The motivation is when you have a heartbeat, you have a hope and you can cope with whatever comes along. If what comes along isn’t airbrushed or photoshopped, that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. You don’t have to live in Disneyland to see rainbows; you can see them in the dark.”