Once a Sunset Strip scenester of the highest order, nightlife no longer rules legendary Hollywood impresario/producer Kim Fowley, 75, who is currently receiving treatment for an ongoing battle with cancer. But in a strange turn of events, he’s being cared for by Cherie Currie, former frontwoman for The Runaways, the band that introduced Joan Jett to the rock world, with whom Fowley shared a tumultuous relationship through the years.
In late August, Currie, 54, moved her former manager into her Los Angeles-area home. Putting aside previous legal battles over royalties, harsh verbal trades in the press and residual ill will from her days with the band (the two reconciled in 2008 when news of Fowley’s condition reached Currie), she opened her home and heart.
“Kim’s fiancee, Kara Wright, called me to let me know about his health, and we agreed a change of environment was what he needed,” says Currie. “It’s draining, yes, but I’ll always step up. It’s who I am.”
Fowley plucked 15-year-old Currie from the obscurity San Fernando Valley and catapulted her to stardom as the singer of all-girl band The Runaways in 1975. Currie quit in 1977, due in large part to Fowley’s unorthodox work methods, mistreatment and verbal assaults, something she documented in her 1989 autobiography, Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story, which inspired the 2010 movie The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart as Jett and Dakota Fanning as Currie.
“I love Kim. I really do,” adds Currie. “After everything I went through as a kid with him, I ended up becoming a mom and realized it was difficult for a man in his 30s to deal with five teenage girls. He’s a friend I admire who needed help, and I could be there for him.”
Earlier this year, Fowley and Currie began working on an album with fellow Runaway Lita Ford that’s due out later in 2014 and marks a return to Currie’s rock roots.
Currie is optimistic about Fowley’s condition: “He’s coming back. He went from looking ashen to vibrant and happy.” But after eight days with Currie, Fowley returned to a Southern California hospital, where he remains and continues to work from his hospital bed — recording a radio show for Sirius XM (on Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel) and minding the catalog of music — including the hit “Cherry Bomb” — his fiancée Wright (the two plan to marry by Halloween) handles under Peer Music Publishing. “My destiny is to work and idleness is the devil’s workshop,” Fowley tells Billboard.
A version of this story appeared in the Sept. 13 issue of Billboard.