Kim Fowley, Lord of Garbage
April 25, 2013 | by Faber Social
Kim Fowley once looked into the eyes of my muse and wife to be, Lady Elizabeth Jane Walker, pointed to me and offered up a prediction.
‘You will bear that man’s child within the next five years.’
He then clambered on stage and rattled through some psyche standards backed by an increasingly bemused-looking pick-up band before making a request.
‘Are there any young girls out there who would like to kiss an old man?’
A young lady too cute to be a minute over seventeen (© Chuck Berry) jumped on stage and proceeded to Frenchy the Lord of Garbage. This was all too much for one of The Actionettes (London’s leading formation go-go dancing troupe), who snatched his microphone from him, angrily proclaiming, ‘I don’t care who you are or how many good records you’ve made, you’re just a dirty old man. Why don’t you just fuck off’ – an announcement that brought an abrupt end to ‘The Dirty Water Club presents an evening with Kim Fowley’.
With this memory in mind, I had already formed an opinion concerning what I was about to read. Kim Fowley is a man walking a precarious line between sex magick and sex pest. However, apart from a mention in the epigraph – ‘Rock ’n’ roll is driven by revenge and sex’ – some references to his father’s amorous adventures and the fleeting appearance of a pink feathered dildo, there is relatively little sex. And there are next to no drugs. (‘Why do I need to be high? I’m already insane/crazy/enlightened.’) But when it comes to rock ’n’ roll it’s there in spades, starting with the moment Mr Fowley realised its effect on the teenage brain.
‘One day I was heading for school and there was a girl standing there, crying. She said Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were dead. I heard the call and I heeded it. February 3, 1959. That was the day I marched into Hollywood USA.’
The next ten years (this is volume one of an autobiographical series taking us up until 1969) sees Kim coming into contact with Bob Dylan, Steven Stills, John Lennon, Jimmy Page, Bruce Johnson and B. B. King, to name but a few. He shares a house with Viv Prince of The Pretty Things and P. J. Proby whilst in England, when he was ‘a big idiot enjoying Beatlemania and swinging London’, and shares a lunch of turkey sandwiches with Joe Meek after making a pilgrimage to his Holloway Road flat/studio.
What makes Lord of Garbage intriguing is that although packed with rock heritage and pedigree it is short on lengthy anecdote, and reading it feels like reading the transcript of a stream-of-consciousness outpouring you were once on the receiving end of after being cornered by our hero in a downtown bar. It is this lack of gory detail that fires the imagination like a horror movie that relies on glimpse and shadow rather than buckets of blood.
Unlike some, Mr Fowley is not particularly interested in basking in past tawdry glory. This is because he is a true hustler, and to quote Andrew Loog Oldham, ‘the true hustler lives in the present and future’. And to quote the last four lines of Lord of Garbage . . . actually, on second thoughts that would be like revealing the last four lines of a whodunnit. Just buy it and read for yourself. Suffice to say this book is reminiscent in tone of a Faber Finds re-release about to hit the shelves, Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, in that it is a story of survival through existing in the moment.