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

JON JERDE 1940–2015

February 17th, 2015

Jon Jerde was a prominent architect in the Los Angeles area. I met him a couple of times, but we weren’t what I would call friends. We did have some interesting history together, however.

If you go to Comic Con International each year you might have seen one of his more prominent designs: Horton Plaza.

I have mixed feelings about Horton Plaza. I find it visually stunning but frustratingly non-functional. It looks like an M. C. Escher design built with gigantic pieces of penny candy. If you’re in the middle of it and see a shop or restaurant you’d like to visit, however, good luck. You’ll have one hell of a time trying to figure out just how to get there. You might spend a half hour trying and end up in the same spot where you began.

I worked at Walt Disney Imagineering for a few years during Michael Eisner’s reign. My first big project was designing something called Disney Island. The problem presented to us was this:

When the Walt Disney World parks closed for the evening, the Disney “guests” left the Disney property for the rest of the night. They dined off property, shopped off property and were entertained off property. My job was to design a place that kept all those people (and their money) on property at Walt Disney World. It would be built between the Swan and Dolphin hotels and EpCot. I was told that budget was a concern (in other words, design stuff that would be relatively cheap to build).

I worked on designing Disney Island for about a year. My team and I ultimately solved all the problems presented to us and came up with a spectacular presentation, which many at WDI said was the most elaborate presentation they had ever seen at Disney. It had programmed music, laser beams, sound effects, animated facades, smoke effects — it was totally mind-blowing. One guy sat through our presentation six times.

Michael Eisner had a real hard-on for famous architects. He loved hosting and entertaining them. He made sure they all saw our Disney Island presentation at least once. One of the architects I pitched to was Jon Jerde, who was working for WDI at the time.

My solution was fairly simple. Design large, inexpensive vernacular facades for the shops, restaurants and entertainment clubs that celebrated American pop culture, kind of like an upscale carnie boardwalk. Spend the real money on the interiors.

After our series of presentations, the key members of our team were flown out to Orlando for an intense (and — intentionally, I think — mind-numbingly boring) business/budget meeting with a fleet of Disney accountants. At that meeting we were told that Disney Island would not be made. I asked why. They told me it was way over budget.

“I have never gone over budget on anything,” I replied. “Despite my many requests, you never gave me a budget — so how could I go over budget if we didn’t have a budget? Give me a proper budget and I’ll work to it.”

“Well, this would be a five year project…” they began.

I knew all WDI projects were five-year projects.

“Wait a minute. I’ve seen the waste that comes from making everything a five year project at WDI. Let me hire my own people. I’ll build Disney Island in just two years — three years max. It won’t be over budget. In fact, it’ll probably be cheaper than any major project like this you’ve ever built.”

It was as if lightning had struck the center of the room. Faces were ashen, eyes were wide, mouths hung silently open. I had spoken the words never to be spoken. I had pulled the mask off their fraud. If I could pull this off (and I knew I could), the job of nearly every single person at WDI might be in extreme jeopardy. I had announced that the Emperor had no clothes — or, at least if he had any clothes at all, his long-term tailors had been vastly overpricing them. If I pulled off Disney Island, the rest of WDI could no longer take two or three year projects and pad them out to five years.

“Well, we have also determined that even if we built this place, it would be an utter failure — no one would come.”

CUT TO: About four or five years later.

I’m now working for Jon Snoddy, the tech guy I used for the Disney Island presentation. Jon’s an extremely bright guy. One of his claims to fame is inventing the THX sound system for George Lucas. He also successfully cracked the virtual reality nut for Disney.

Jon hires me to design GameWorks, a series of gaming clubs that are a joint venture between Universal, Dreamworks SKG and Sega Games. A big games guy himself, Steven Spielberg is very involved. We’re working on the lot at Universal inside one of the sound stages.

During conversation with Jon one day, I casually mention that I’ve never been to CityWalk, Universal’s large retail/food/entertainment complex that overlooks Universal Studios.

Jon’s jaw drops to the floor.

“Really? You’ve never been to CityWalk? Not once?”

“Not once.”

“Let’s go right now”, said Jon. “I want to see your face.”

“What do you mean, you ‘want to see my face’?”

“Come on; it’s just a few minutes walk from here.”

We made our way out of the film studio, through the theme park and up the hill to CityWalk, Universal’s collection of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. We turned a corner and entered CityWalk.

“Holy shit!”

I couldn’t believe what was in front of my eyes.

“They built Disney Island! They ripped us off and called it ‘CityWalk’!”

“Jon Jerde left WDI not long after your presentation.,” Jon said. “As soon as he got word of Disney Island’s cancellation, he took the idea and pitched it to Universal. Universal loved it and signed off on it.”

There it was, right in front of my eyes. Our whole concept. Built and operating.

I was simultaneously pissed off and elated. Pissed off for being stolen from; elated by the fact that this place was jam-packed with people. It was a HUGE success. I remembered what I was told by the Disney accountants in Orlando:

“If we built this place, it would be an utter failure — no one would come.”

I felt totally vindicated.

CUT TO: A few more years later.

The Los Angeles Times runs a huge laudatory article on architect Jon Jerde. It crows over how brilliant and original his ideas have been — especially Universal’s CityWalk.

I finally couldn’t take this bullshit anymore. I fired off a letter to the Times outlining the true origins of CityWalk.

KABOOM! My letter triggers a firestorm of front-page articles and counter-articles, letters and counter-letters. I discover that at WDI they are taking the Times articles and letters and making gigantic wall-sized blow-ups, plastering them all over the hallways at WDI for all of their employees to read.

I hear through the grapevine that the Disney people are split. Half think it’s great that WDI is finally getting its due as the true creator of CityWalk; the rest are pissed off that I’m taking any credit at all (the theory being that at a Walt Disney company, Walt Disney is responsible for all the good ideas from the company that bears his name; Disney employees are supposed to be anonymous, faceless and invisible).

Eventually, the big brouhaha died down and the dust settled.

That December, Jon Jerde sent me a beautiful Christmas card…a thank you, I guessed, for all the free front-page publicity.

I thought it was pretty classy of the guy.

And that’s my Jon Jerde story. Rest in peace, Big Guy.

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.