B.B. King 1925 – 2015

May 15th, 2015

BBKingBlog

One of the all time blues greats, Mr. B.B. King, has passed away yesterday after living a long, influential life in music.

Here’s a slightly revised version of the bio I wrote for B.B. in my book Legends of the Blues (if you don’t have this book by now, what in the heck is wrong with you?):

Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925 in Itta Bena, Mississippi. After his father left the family, Riley grew up in his mother’s and grandmother’s homes. He worked as a sharecropper and sang gospel, then moved to Indianola, Mississippi, in 1943. Country and gospel were his first influences, followed by the music of T-Bone Walker, Lonnie Johnson, Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. In 1946, he studied guitar for ten months in Memphis under his cousin, bluesman Bukka White. After months of hardship, Riley returned to Indianola.

King came back to Memphis in 1948, working at radio station WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, gaining the nickname “Beale Street Blues Boy,” (hence, “B.B.”; not “B. B.”, by the way). Upon first hearing T-Bone Walker, he promptly purchased an electric guitar. King cut tracks for Bullet, then began recording for RPM with (famed Elvis Presley) producer Sam Phillips. King’s first R&B #1 was Lowell Fulson’s “Three O’Clock Blues” (1951).

In the mid-1950s, while B.B. was performing at an Arkansas dance, a kerosene stove got knocked over during a fight, setting the place ablaze. B.B. raced outdoors with the crowd. Realizing he had left his beloved $30 acoustic guitar inside, he rushed back in to retrieve it, narrowly escaping death. After finding out the brawl had been over a woman named Lucille, he named his guitar “Lucille” as a reminder never to be so crazy as to fight over a woman. Since then, each of his Gibson guitars has been named Lucille. The original Lucille was stolen from his car’s trunk in Brooklyn. He offered a $20,000 reward but no one ever came forward. He eventually had an open offer of $100,000 for the return of that beloved guitar.

King moved to ABC-Paramount Records in 1962, cutting his majestic Live at the Regal LP in 1964. He gained a huge crossover audience via the late 1960s blues revival. His 1969 remake of Roy Hawkins’ “The Thrill Is Gone” was both a huge pop and R&B hit. Between 1951 and 1985, King scored 74 times on Billboard’s R&B charts. In 1988 King collaborated with U2, then with Eric Clapton on 2000’s double platinum Riding with the King. In the 1980s/90s, King gigged an average of 300 nights a year, making a series of high profile recordings at the same time.

King owned blues clubs around the USA. Despite his 2005 “Final Farewell Tour,” he continued to perform worldwide. The B.B. King Museum opened in 2008.

Here is some B.B. King trivia of which you might not be aware: Boxer Sonny Liston was B. B.’s uncle. King was a vegetarian, a licensed pilot, a non-drinker and non-smoker. He had Type II Diabetes and was a visible spokesman in the fight against the disease. B.B’s favorite singer was Frank Sinatra.

How about some recommended B.B. King tracks for your listening pleasure? They’re all great examples of why he was so revered: The entire B.B. King Live at The Regal CD (an essential disc for any music collection); also “You Know I Love You,” “Please Love Me,” “When My Heart Beats like a Hammer,” “Sneakin’ Around,” “Ten Long Years,” “Bad Luck,” “On My Word of Honor,” “Please Accept My Love,” “Sweet Sixteen,” “Got a Right to Love My Baby,” “Partin’ Time,” “Don’t Answer the Door,” “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss,” “Why I Sing the Blues”

Here are a couple of interesting covers of B.B. songs by some Brits: “Sweet Little Angel” (Jeff Beck Group; sung by Rod Stewart) and “When My Heart Beats like a Hammer” (Fleetwood Mac).

Also: check out B.B.’s interesting collaboration with U2, “When Love Comes to Town”.

I saw B.B. King perform live at one of his creative peaks (around the time of his Live at the Regal LP). Here’s an excerpt from my forthcoming book, William Stout: Rock ‘n’ Roll Heart:

When I attended my first Shrine Exposition Hall show, I had no idea what to expect.

The Shrine, as we called it (not to be confused — as it often is — with its nearby cousin the Shrine Auditorium), was a big empty hall with a stage at one end and no seats. It was easy to access the front of the stage. On the second floor the shows could be viewed from the balcony. The bands’ dressing rooms were both upstairs and downstairs.

Believe it or not, the price of admission to the Shrine shows was usually $2.50 in advance, $3.00 at the door. Why I didn’t attend every single show regardless of who was playing bears witness to how poor I was and what things cost back then (as evidenced by what now seems like a “mere” half a buck difference between buying advance tickets or purchasing them at the door). To a poor art student sometimes fifty cents meant the difference between going and not going.

On my first Shrine night the line-up was Sons of Champlin, followed by B.B. King and then the headliners: The Yardbirds (with Jimmy Page; it was their last live appearance).

B.B. King followed Sons of Champlin with a concise, powerful set (pretty much the same songs that are on BB King’s Live at the Regal LP). Blues fans were jamming their heads into B.B.’s huge speakers, trying to absorb every note. It was my first real blues show and I was lucky enough to be in the hands of an incredibly classy master.

From the moment he took the stage I loved the guy — along with the rest of the entire audience. He was so elegant, yet incredibly human, warm and inclusive. He gave an incredible show that connected with every single person attending. There was a little bit of The Church in his show, as he passed down some of the wisdom about life and women that he had acquired in his long and challenging life. That show made me a lifelong B.B. King fan.

Last Saturday I saw my friend Van Dyke Parks give his final piano/vocal concert. One of his special guests that evening was Joe Walsh. The blues riffs that Joe played on one of Van Dyke’s songs immediately made me think of B.B. They were precise, elegant and soulful. Not a single “extra” note was played nor needed. It was an aural vision of economy. Even my wife commented on the elegance and economy of Joe’s playing. If not channeling B.B. King, King’s influence at the very least was profoundly felt that evening in Mr. Walsh’s performance — and it made me smile as I thought of B.B. and all the people he touched.

B.B., you may have left Earth but before you did you gave us a bounty of musical gifts that will provide solace, inspiration and joyful happiness to millions for centuries to come.

Rest in peace to the man Bill Graham introduced to 1960s white audiences as “The Chairman of the Board”: Mr. B.B. King.

TONIGHT! TONIGHT!

February 28th, 2015
1983...A Merman I Should Turn to Be

1983…A Merman I Should Turn to Be

This evening is the official opening of REVOLUTIONS 2 – Music as Art at the Forest Lawn Museum (corner of Glendale Avenue & San Fernando Road in Glendale).

I’ve got over 50 pieces in this group show. My work dates from my art school days right up until a month or two ago. I did a big Jimi Hendrix painting just for the show (Hendrix as a merman, illustrating my favorite song of his: 1983…A Merman I Should Turn to Be).

The museum shop is well-stocked with my book Legends of the Blues. I’ll be signing all night long (well…from 6:00 – 8:00 PM anyway).

See You There, I Hope!

LOUIS JOURDAN 1921-2015

February 19th, 2015
Louis Jourdan with Gigi

Louis Jourdan with Gigi

I never had the pleasure of meeting French film star Louis Jourdan, but I loved his work. Our connection was tenuous at best (read on). Gigi is a favorite musical of mine; he was great in it as Gaston. Because of his good looks and the huge success of Gigi, he got typecast as the prototypical suave French lover, a type of role he quickly tired of.

I liked him in his genre films. A lot of folks don’t know this (it wasn’t mentioned in the Los Angeles Times obit) but the 1976 Jourdan BBC-TV movie version of Count Dracula adhered closer to Bram Stoker’s book than any other version.

Louis Jourdan as Dracula

Louis Jourdan as Dracula

A fan of the book, I loved it (Louis played the vampiric Count). The DVD is available from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Count-Dracula-Mini–Louis-Jourdan/dp/B000R7I48G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424374123&sr=8-1&keywords=louis+jourdan+dracula

His other horror/sci-fi/fantasy films include Swamp Thing, Octopussy (there’s our connection — I designed that film’s logo), The Return of the Swamp Thing and that little sci-fi gem Year of the Comet.

Bon soir, mon ami…

GARY OWENS 1934–2015

February 18th, 2015
Gary Owens

Gary Owens

I first became aware of Gary Owens when he was a disc jockey on KFWB. You couldn’t miss his distinctive voice. He followed that gig by hosting a daily 3:00 -5:00PM daily show for KMPC in Los Angeles. He had a lot of freedom at KMPC. They allowed him to do some of the wildest radio comedy I had ever heard — laugh-out-loud funny stuff. IHis show was so unique and out there, it felt like I was listening to something that probably should have been forbidden to my teenage ears.

Gary was similar to Jonathan Winters in a few ways. Both had a knack for creating wildly funny characters with W. C. Fields-ish wacky names. Gary’s included the gruff old Earl C. Festoon and his wife Phoebe, the stuffy old businessman Endocrine J. Sternwallow, the goofy corn-poner Merle Clyde Gumpf and the cranky old curmudgeon Mergenthaler Waisleywillow.

Owens and Winters also both began as cartoonists. Gary was a member and active participant in CAPS, the Comic Art Professional Society, a group based in Los Angeles.

Gary was a master of double-talk, inventing words like krenellemuffin, creeble and insegrievious. He would describe a dress as being a beautiful shade of veister with krelb accents.

You might know Gary as the voice of Space Ghost and Roger Ramjet. More likely, you remember him as the hand-on-the-ear announcer in the booth on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In or as the TV newscaster on The Green Hornet TV show.

My pal Richard Jones produced a series of dinosaur specials (and one on prehistoric mammals) for ABC-TV. My art was peppered all through those shows (they are all back in print and currently available on DVD). Gary and Eric Boardman were the shows’ humorous hosts. Gary actually acted with my wife, who played his nurse on the prehistoric mammals show (a show my young sons at the time referred to as “Mommy and the Mammals”).

Gary is also famous for coining the phrase “beautiful downtown Burbank”, which was used on both Laugh-In and The Tonight Show.

Gary was one of the kindest and most generous entertainers I have ever met. He never failed to cheerfully pitch in when we approached him regarding the possibility of helping out with hosting or presenting at a CAPS event. In my entire life I have never heard anyone say anything even slightly derogatory in regards to Gary Owens. Believe me, in show business, that’s something that is as rare as it gets.

Gary’s death is a big loss to the entertainment business, to the world of comic art and to this great man’s vast legion of friends and admirers (I am proud to be able to count myself as both).

Signing out…

garyowens

Stephen Czerkas 1951–2015

February 16th, 2015

I first met Stephen Czerkas back in the late 1970s.

StephenThen

We hit it off right away, as we had a lot in common. We were both young filmmakers, we both loved stop motion animation and we both loved dinosaurs. I was a painter; Stephen was a sculptor. Stephen was then in the middle of making and animating the creatures for Planet of the Dinosaurs (Stephen also worked on Dreamscape and Flesh Gordon). The footage I saw amazed me.

Stegosaurs from Planet of the Dinosaurs

Stegosaurs from Planet of the Dinosaurs

Well, the footage I saw by Stephen amazed me (Stephen did great work, but overall the entire film itself is a dog).

Shortly after that, we both got very serious in regards to accurate paleontological reconstruction — Stephen even more seriously than myself. I once saw him completely destroy an entire model, beautifully sculpted down to the last detail, because he learned the had made the animal’s tail an inch too long.

Stephen sculpting some raptors

Stephen sculpting some raptors

We both fought a battle for respect within the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, an esteemed organization we both joined around the same time. It was an upward battle, as our film backgrounds and work in fictional and fantasy arenas made us suspect within that community. It probably didn’t help Stephen’s reputation with them when I hired him to sculpt the fully articulated foam rubber animation maquette of my design for a new Godzilla back in 1982.

The New Godzilla meets the Old Godzilla

The New Godzilla meets the Old Godzilla

But Stephen was my pal. He cheerfully pitched in to help on the film without hesitation, reservation or complaint.

I know that acceptance by the scientific community was very important to Stephen. He worked twice as hard as any paleontologist I’ve ever met to achieve legitimacy in their eyes. Sadly, some of them would never come around, as they kept a tight grasp upon their prejudices, despite Stephen’s groundbreaking work.

Stephen and I shared an artistic hero: Charles R. Knight. Knight visually defined dinosaurs for the world. It was his dinosaurs that were in King Kong and Fantasia (Knight painted the dinosaur murals for the natural history museums in New York and Chicago, as well as the La Brea tar pits mural for Los Angeles). Stephen was a visionary similar to Knight. Just as Knight changed and formed the public’s perceptions of dinosaurs, so did Stephen. He was a visual pioneer when it came to depicting dinosaurs with feathers.

A Czerkas dino, comlete with feathers

A Czerkas dino, complete with feathers

I believe he and his talented wife Sylvia should receive a special acknowledgement from the paleontological community, if only for their pioneering work and observations in regards to dinosaur skin.

In 1984 Stephen and Sylvia got a call from Argentina. A very unusual dinosaur was being unearthed. Steve and Sylvia hooped on the first flight down there. They immediately noticed that in addition to the bones of this new dinosaur, there were lots and lots of preserved skin impressions. They made the paleontologists aware of this and changed the excavation procedure to include all of the skin as well as the fossilized bones.

It became a dramatic turning point in paleontological field collection. Up until that moment paleontologists did not expect to find skin when digging up dinosaurs. Because of Stephen and Sylvia, they became much more cautious. From that point on scientists began to look for the possibility of skin — and they began to find it. Lots of it. That Argentinian dinosaur they were called to see was Carnotaurus. About 90% of that animal’s skin was recovered thanks to Stephen and Sylvia. Here is Stephen with his sculpture of Carnotaurus, perhaps the first life restoration of a theropod showing accurate skin:

Stephen and Carnotaurus

Stephen and Carnotaurus

I believe we now have skin samples from every major dinosaur family thanks to their perceptive observations. Most of what we now know about dinosaur skin is a direct result of their educated and intuitive observation and vision, a vision that became the genesis for the subsequent explosion of information and knowledge in that rarefied but important field. Stephen himself discovered that sauropods (like Brontosaurus/Apatosaurus and Diplodocus) had a row of upright non-bony spines projecting from the top of their neck, back and most of their tail.

Stephen was serious — but also kind, sweet, and a loyal friend. He never lost his enthusiasm for the things he loved. He felt like the luckiest kid in the world when he met and became friends with one of his greatest heroes, fellow stop motion animator Ray Harryhausen.

Stephen's T. rex meets Ray's Rhedosaurus in Planet of the Dinosaurs

Stephen’s T. rex meets Ray’s Rhedosaurus in Planet of the Dinosaurs

Stephen found his soul mate in the talented and extremely perceptive Sylvia, whose love and wisdom gently helped him to successfully navigate the often-layered social worlds hitherto unfamiliar to him. Sylvia provided a safe refuge for Stephen so that he could pursue the knowledge and learning for which he never lost his hunger.

He has been taken from all of us far too soon. He has left us with a huge hole in our lives, a chasm that no one else can fill.

I don’t believe in Heaven. But if by some chance there is a heaven, I know that Stephen is there. And I pray to God that heaven abounds in dinosaurs, just so that Stephen can look around and say, “See? I was right!

StephenNow

PS: On another subject entirely, Happy President’s Day!

Happy President's Day!

Happy President’s Day!

Official Revolutions 2 Invitation

February 3rd, 2015

Here’s the official E-vite to Revolutions 2: The Art of Music:

Revolutions-2-Evite-v1-12 11

Note that the Opening Reception is not until the 28th! Don’t forget to RSVP!

William Stout’s World of Oz Now Sold Out!

February 1st, 2015

StoutWorldOzCoverBlog

If you didn’t grab a copy of William Stout’s World of Oz, it’s too late. The book, with its limited run of 250 signed and numbered copies, has SOLD OUT. Sorry if you missed it!

Legends of the British Blues – Volume 2

January 19th, 2015


This home-made two-hour CD I made is the second collection of my favorite British blues recordings. It was the Brits who turned me (and millions of others from my generation) on to our very own homegrown genre of music: The Blues. Crank it up!

1) The UK blues super-group The Blues Band originally consisted of ex-Manfred Mann members Paul Jones (vocals & harmonica) and Tom McGuinness (guitar), drummer Hughie Flint from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, vocalist, ex-John Dummer Blues Band Dave Kelly (vocals & slide guitar) and ex-Wild Turkey bassist Gary Fletcher. When their first LP debuted the press headlines ran “From ‘Doo Wah Diddy’ to ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’”, highlighting the Willie Dixon/Bo Diddley song chosen for inclusion here.

2) Jeff Beck’s powerful guitarwork propels The Yardbirds cover Elmore James’ “I Must Have Done Somebody Wrong”: “I Ain’t Done Wrong”.

3) Humble Pie, another British “super-group” boasted Steve Marriott (ex-Small Faces) and Peter Frampton (ex-Herd) on guitars and vocals, plus Greg Ridley (ex-Spooky Tooth on bass and Jerry Shirley (ex-Apostolic Intervention) on drums. Here is their re-arranged cover of the Willie Dixon/Muddy Waters blues classic “I’m Ready”.

4) Ian Anderson and Mick Abrahams of Jethro Tull perform a blues duet on “Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine For You” from 1968’s This Was LP.

5) Before Eric Clapton recorded Freddie King’s “Steppin’ Out” with his bands The Powerhouse and Cream, he cut this version with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers.

6) The last single recorded by Fleetwood Mac when Peter Green, the group’s founder, was still a member of the band was his haunting “Green Manalishi (with the Three-Pronged Crown)”.

7) Willie Dixon’s song “You Need Love” was first recorded by Muddy Waters. This version by Steve Marriott and The Small Faces (renamed “You Need Loving”) was covered by Led Zeppelin as “Whole Lotta Love”.

8) “Porcupine Juice” was one of three terrific instrumentals recorded by Santa Barbara Machine Head. That’s future Deep Purple founder Jon Lord on organ and future Faces and Rolling Stones member Ron Wood on that wild lead guitar.

9) The most unusual twelve-bar blues on this disc is “For Example” by The Nice. Keyboardist Keith Emerson became even more famous after he co-founded Emerson Lake & Palmer.

10) Tom Jones and Jools Holland perform a rollicking version of Cab Calloway’s classic blues hit “St. James Infirmary”.

11) Jellybread was led by piano whiz Pete Wingfield, whose “Eighteen with a Bullet” was a hit in 1975. That’s his vocals and playing on the blues-rock classic “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”.

12) Eric Burdon never lost his love for singing the blues as evidenced by this recent recording of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Soul of a Man”.

13) Freddie King’s great blues instrumental “The Stumble” is well-covered by Peter Green from back in his John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers days.

14) My favorite version of the eerie Screamin’ Jay Hawkins blues classic “I Put a Spell On You” is by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. “Stop it! Stop it! Please — PLEASE!

15) The Pretty Things were rough and raw during their early days, as evidenced by their hit “Rosalyn”, a song later covered by David Bowie on his Pin-Ups LP.

16) Before the membership of the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation solidified, they cut “Stone Cold Crazy” when Rod Stewart and Peter Green were briefly part of Aynsley’s group.

17) Koko Taylor’s Chess Records hit “Wang Dang Doodle” gets covered in a lively version by the Welsh band Love Sculpture. That’s Dave Edmunds on guitar and vocals.

18) UK pop star Lulu recorded “Drown in My Own Tears” with Jeff Beck on guitar for the Martin Scorsese PBS television series The Blues.

19) Jeff Beck strikes again, giving support and inspiration to Paul Rodgers on the Willie Dixon/Muddy Waters blues classic “I Just Want to Make Love to You”.

20) Where would the blues be without great train songs? Savoy Brown (formerly the Savoy Brown Blues Band) hit with their great 1969 blues composition “Train to Nowhere”.

KIM FOWLEY 1939–2015

January 17th, 2015

If you spent any time on the streets of Hollywood in the 1960s or 70s, you were bound to eventually run into Kim Fowley.

Who was Kim Fowley? That answer depended upon whom you asked. His indentification varied greatly: pop Svengali, hit record producer, hip scenester with his tap on the latest music trends’ pulse, womanizer extraordinaire, dark overlord, talent scout, songwriter, monster, friend, chameleon, singer, opportunist, self promoter…

You get the picture. He was all that and more — a real, bonafide Hollywood character.

Kim was easy to spot in a crowd. He was rail thin and very tall. He moved through crowds with an elegant grace, his heavy-lidded reptilian eyes always on the prowl…

Living in Hollywood, I saw Kim from afar a lot, often in the company of the “Mayor of Sunset Strip”, little Rodney Bingenheimer. They made a real Mutt ‘n’ Jeff pair.

I first met Kim at a rock festival at Devonshire Downs in the San Fernando Valley, ca. 1968. The Doors had finished their set. Next up was a band called Solid State. Kim Fowley was the festival’s master of ceremonies (a service he later provided for John Lennon at the Plastic Ono Band‘s first public appearance in Toronto). He gave hip advice and peppered the crowd with dryly hilarious bits of pop wisdom in between acts. I sensed a distinct lag in Solid State’s coming to the stage, despite the fact that they seemed all set up. I was close enough to the stage to hear that their drummer had gone missing, caught in Valley traffic. Kim stepped up to the mike.

"Is there a drummer in the house?"

“Is there a drummer in the house?”

I leaped on to the stage. Kim handed me a pair of drumsticks and said, “Go.” I was suddenly playing before a crowd of several thousand people, providing the rhythm for a band I had never met, whose music I had never heard. It was absolutely exhilarating. After a couple of songs there was a line of drummers waiting to take their turn at the stool. Kim gave each one a shot (I thought I was great at the time but, in hindsight, I probably sucked. But man, what a rush!).

Kim is watching you...

As I became more and more of a part of the Hollywood music scene, I heard more and more Tales of Kim. He produced a few hits you might have heard: His first pop hit was “Cherry Pie” by Skip & Flip (warmly covered later by the great Australian band Daddy Cool). “Alley Oop” was a #1 record for the Hollywood Argyles. Fowley produced The Murmaids’ “Popsicles Icicles” (a #3 hit written by a pre-Bread David Gates, whom Fowley had picked up hitchhiking) as well as “Bumble Boogie” (#21), a driving rock version of Rimsky-Korsakov‘s “Flight of the Bumble Bee”, followed by “Nut Rocker”, a rocked-up boogie piano version of Tchaikovsky’s “March” from his “Nutcracker Suite” (UK #1; US #23 — a big influence on Keith Emerson who later recorded it with ELP) both recorded by a session band under the moniker B. Bumble and The Stingers.

Kim Fowley, the Glam Years

The long fingers of this pop Zelig touched The Byrds, the Beach Boys, P. J. Proby, Cat Stevens (Kim wrote the B-side to Cat’s first single), Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Gene Vincent, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell, Kris Kristofferson, Helen Reddy, Warren Zevon, KISS, Ariel Pink, Sky Ferreira and Slade, among many others.

Glammier and Glammier...

Kim Fowley recorded solo LPs as well, all of which found their way into my record collection. When he wanted to, Kim could sing with a classic rock voice similar to Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & The Raiders.

Kim is perhaps most well-known for putting together, mentoring, producing and (reputedly) having sex with The Runaways.

The Runaways

Fowley recruited the Runaways in 1975 by placing an ad in Who Put the Bomp magazine (I became the magazine’s art director when it shortened its name to BOMP) and ended up producing the band’s 1976 self-titled debut album and co-writing their biggest hit “Cherry Bomb”. This all-girl group would become an icon and inspiration to girl rockers everywhere. Included in this tight rocking unit were future stars Cherie Currie, Lita Ford and Joan Jett. The Runaways, a movie that was made of their rise-and-fall story, painted Fowley as a dark villain.

Kim was nothing if not always eminently quotable. He described himself thus: “I’m everybody’s worst nightmare and somebody’s wet dream. I’m a horrible human being with a heart of gold, or a piece of shit in a bag of diamonds. I’m a bad guy who does nice things, as opposed to a nice guy who does bad things.”

His (accurate) description of the Sunset Strip scene:

“The Sunset Strip is a civilization for the broken-hearted, the mistreated, the overlooked, the underloved and the doomed.”

I got to see some sides of Kim up close when I ran into him in my Sunset Boulevard bank one day. I introduced myself and told him I was in a band. He immediately dropped whatever he was doing and took interest in me. We went up to his office (same building; the entire structure later became the headquarters for the L. A. branch of Motown Records) and he gave me a few 45s. “Learn these songs and get back to me.” They were singles he had produced. The records had gone nowhere but he still believed in the songs — and, for some reason, in me (despite my pleading that this was “our big chance”, my band lacked interest in learning or recording Kim’s material. I’ve still got the singles).

I had heard of Kim’s reputation as a rock Lothario who had (literally) bedded thousands of women. I saw first hand how that worked.

Going through my bank’s lobby and even inside the elevator we encountered several attractive women. Kim asked each and every one: “Do you have a husband or a boyfriend?”

If the answer was “Yes”, he returned his attention to me. If the answer was “No”, he immediately sexually propositioned them. Kim was playing the odds. If, in the course of a day, he asked 200 women to sleep with him, and just 10% said “Yes” (it was pre-Aids 1960s and 70s, a very easy time to get laid), that was another twenty woman under his belt, so to speak. Kim had no problem with rejection (he never pushed himself on anyone, as far as I could see), as there was always another pretty girl (and potential bedmate) just around the corner.

Ignore Kim at your peril...

I grew up, built an art career, made movies, got married, moved to Pasadena and had kids. I’d see Kim rarely. When I did, it was usually at music-related events. The last time I saw him was about a year ago, at an art show opening at the Nucleus Gallery. As I recall, it was a group show on zombies in art (of course I had works in the show). We caught up with each other. He was still a serious hustler. I watched as he skillfully wheedled promises from a number of people who approached him. Like David Bowie, Kim was adept at changing his physical persona. On that night, his once gigantic thicket of massive curly hair now cut short and slicked back, he looked like a hip version of Karloff’s Frankenstein monster, as if the monster had wised up and had become a driving force in the music biz.

Kim eventually succumbed to bladder cancer, an ignoble end to a storied career, but which apparently didn’t affect his lusty sense of humor, as evidenced by these sick bed photos:

Just what the doctor ordered!

The finest care possible, Kim style.

So, of all the labels that graced upon or were heaped upon Kim Fowley, which was the most accurate?

I can only think of one that I think all who knew him just might agree upon:

Unforgettable.

RIP, my strange amigo.

I Stand in Solidarity with My French Cartoonist Brothers

January 7th, 2015

I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn that four renowned French cartoonists (Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski, Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac and Jean Cabut), plus several of their colleagues at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and police officers were gunned down in a brutal attack by cowardly Islamic extremists.

My heart goes out to their families, to the French cartoonist and comic artist community, to the people of France and to lovers and promoters of freedom everywhere.

Here is a link to the news story of this unthinkable tragedy:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2900519/Cartoonists-mocked-Islam-refused-threatened-Quranic-law-killed-Charlie-Hebdo-massacre-terrorists-asked-name.html

This is a very sad day.