Kim Fowley, the eccentric Los Angeles rock scene fixture best known for putting the Runaways together, has died. He was 75, and the cause of death remains undisclosed. According to a Billboard article from last September, Fowley had been battling cancer and was being cared for by Runaways frontwoman Cherie Currie, who had spent years feuding with Fowley over royalties.
Aside from the Runaways, Fowley had a long and wildly varied career, and he was a massive influence on rock ‘n’ roll despite never becoming a household name. Early on, he worked with bands like Paul Revere and the Raiders and the Seeds who provided the foundations for the garage rock sound that underpins a large amount of contemporary rock, and his work with Kiss and Alice Cooper helped give an American twist on British glam that dominated the rock charts for two decades. More recently he contributed to Ariel Pink’s latest album pom pom and appeared in Beyonce’s “Haunted” video. He is also credited with inventing the long-running tradition of holding up cigarette lighters at concerts during a gig emceeing John Lennon’s performance at the 1969 Toronto Rock and Roll Revival concert.
Fowley was a performer in his own right, and his discography has been a touchstone for experimentally inclined rock artists, including Sonic Youth, who covered his 1968 proto-punk number “Bubblegum” on their album EVOL.
Currie did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.