Kim Fowley died this week after a robust and creative life. He was 75. I spoke with him in the summer of 2012 about Detroit, a city in which he had done a lot of business over the years.
Here’s something from the cutting room floor from Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in America’s Loudest City.
He’s talking about coming to Detroit in the late 90s for a session.
Kim Fowley: Ben Edmonds calls me up and says, ‘Car City wants to bring you to Detroit because there’s been a contest between Car City and three other record stores as to who is the weird, not yet dead, final underdog hero, and it’s you. Car City wants you to record a record. Are you willing to do it?’ I said, ‘For money.’ He said, ‘What do you want?’ I said, ‘Give me a thousand bucks and I’ll bring along some lyrics that I’ll record. We did it at Jim Diamond’s Ghetto Recorders.
Matthew Smith: Ben Edmonds was talking to me about a story he was doing for Mojo about producers and he was talking to all the great producers. He said, ‘I gotta call Kim Fowley later.’ I just mentioned off hand to Ben Edmonds, I said, ‘Oh Kim Fowley, that’s a guy I’d like to work with.’ He said, ‘Well I just might tell him that. You know you just might get a phone call or something.’ So 24 hours later I get a phone call. ‘This is Kim Fowley. What is it you want to do? And don’t give me any bullshit. What is it you have in mind?’ I just said, ‘Well I thought we could make a record together.’ ‘Well how much money can you come up with?’ I go, ‘I don’t know. I might be able to raise a couple grand.’ ‘Well I want one thousand of it up front and the other thousand when I arrive at the airport.’ It happened that quickly. The next day I went into Car City Records, where I was working and I said, ‘Do you think the record store might want to kick in some money to help me make a Kim Fowley record and get all these Detroit people to play in it?’ They said yes. A week later he showed up. Kim stayed at my house for a week. He was in a bit of an intense frame of mind. He was a bit confused or suspicious about our motives. He didn’t understand exactly why we wanted to do the record we wanted to do. By the time we got in the studio with all the musicians, it was almost like we were all under hypnosis. John Nash, Bootsie, Troy Gregory, it was this all star local cast. Kim kept us up for days; he doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t eat. Then after five hours, ‘I need a banana.’ He’d eat a banana and then he has energy for another six hours. He hardly slept at all.
Bob Mulrooney aka Bootsey X: He was looking for a new place to base himself and was moving from New Orleans. He liked me because I brought the chicks, some hot girls. The girls that ended up on the album cover. He said ‘I’m gonna rent a limo and you girls are going to show me Detroit.’ I said, I want a finder’s fee. They never showed him anything.
Kim Fowley: I brought seventy lyrics, and I used sixty-eight of ‘em.
Jim Diamond: Kim had people coming in, people from His Name is Alive, the Witches, Bob Mulrooney was playing drums and Mary from the Cobras was there. Kim said every song just had to be whoever is in the studio is fair game to be on the record. Kim would just make up stuff as it went on. He would make up lyrics and say, ‘Play this beat. Play something that sounds like this.’ And everyone would start playing and that would be the song. He told Bob, ‘play a beat like ooo-pappa-do. I want to hear that song oo-pappa doo, this old R &B song.’ And that would become a song. Everything was like that. Everyone was drinking except Kim and it was total chaos. Then he did the show at the Magic Stick.
Kim Fowley: It was the show that almost turned into fisticuffs. I went on the Wayne State radio station and asked for lipstick lesbians to join me on stage. I had songs about shaved cunts and everything that I performed on radio; talking to the uterus, you know. I said, ‘Come on bitches. Come down and join me.’ Then I went to Noir Leather in Royal Oak and tried to get all those fetish chicks down there. Remember I used to be a sex worker. I used to fuck burn victims in high school for money. So I understood ‘dirty bitches’, you know. My mother was a lesbian. I understand filth. The Detroit Cobras thought I was a horrible human being for exploiting women.
Rachel Nagy: That guy is such a fucking egomaniac. At the Magic Stick, he was doing this thing, ‘Come on everybody. Come on stage. Come on! Let’s party!’ I’m like, ‘Okay.’ No one was going up. I’m like, okay. I will party. He starts trying to dance with me and I grabbed him. Then he tried to push my head down and that’s when I tackled him. He was kind of pawing me and, well, baby, hey. He tried to push my shoulders down and I just fucking knocked him over. You know what, dude? Fuck you. You invite people up. You want to party. Then you want to get fucking sexual with me?
Jim Diamond: Next thing I know they ran up there and tackled him. We pulled Mary and Rachel off of him and then, he's a frail older guy, you know. He's like, ‘I had polio.’ They were laughing at first but I don't think they understood that he was a little, older guy who had polio. He didn't deserve to have fucked up chicks jumping on him, trying to strangle him.
Kim Fowley: I’m a cripple because I have the polio cane and whatnot, so they tried to pull me by the bad leg, Gene Vincent style, into the audience. The roadies were pulling me back. I was caught between the two. Rachel says, ‘You know I threw a punch at him or I did this or that.’ She’s a talented person who has her priorities incorrect and she never charted anywhere. Mary was on the album, funny enough. Ben Edmonds took her side, whatever it was. You know, womanizer from out of town, crippled with a limp. I mean who needed that? Who cares, you know; I’ve been disliked by people before.
Jim Diamond: The next day they came over here and Kim and Ben Edmonds were going to do this thing called Abba Zabba, where Ben was going to ask him like A – Z different band and Kim would tell some story about them. Like it started out with Abba. And Kim would be like, ‘Those girls were a bunch of fucking whores who didn't deserve dog piss.’ He'd just say stuff like that about all these bands, and it was funny. Then Mary comes over and Kim goes on this long diatribe. I have some of it recorded because I had an open mic out there and I turned it on and Kim's going, ‘I'm casting a spell on you right now. Your dreams will never come true.’ and ‘usually when I come to a city, I hire a bull dog. That's someone who will murder people for me.’ and he went on to tell this story about how he was going to take care of her. It was crazy and it went on and it was just very quiet in there and very uncomfortable. Everyone was just silent and he's just telling how he usually likes to have people killed and he had guns.
Kim Fowley: Detroit became a music hotbed again because I had been there.