Kim Fowley is an American producer, songwriter, actor
and film maker best known for producing '60s rock pop
singles and managing The Runaways in the '70s.
It’s no surprise that Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose gets a lot of heat from the media. Between his public fallout with ex-band members to his recent snub of the Rock Hall of Fame, it seems easy to forget that during the pinnacle of the original lineup’s career, he was actually much beloved and respected.
Sure, that Axl might have disappeared once success was all but expected from anything G N’R back in their early ‘90s heyday, but in a recent interview with Kim Fowley, the music industry legend shared a pretty interesting story about the infamous frontman showing more integrity than most anyone would be capable of.
Fowley shared the following story with antiMusic’s Morley Seaver about how Axl turned down big money to leave a pre-success Guns N’ Roses for another band.
Kim said of the event: I was working for a rich manager of a difficult band who had drug issues and alcohol issues and they were friends of Axl. The guy who was putting up the money for this unknown band was dating the leader of the band's mother. So he said "I don't know about this band I'm investing in." he was paying me three grand a week to be their babysitter, producer, coach, shrink, songwriting teacher, publicist, etc. I was doing like 10 jobs. He said, 'Something tells me these guys may not make it. Do you know anyone else who's weird and strange and difficult but possibly platinum?" "Yeah, Guns N' Roses." "Good. Okay. Let's take a look. Oh my goodness. You're right. Okay. Have the singer come by the studio tomorrow."
So we're all in the studio with the unknown band and here comes Axl by himself. And the manager had a $2,000 suit on and he said, "Well, you guys are great. I want to be your manager, production company etc. And I want Kim Fowley to record and produce right here in this studio. And to show you how serious I am I'm going to open this suitcase and show you what's inside. And you can walk away with the suitcase. Or call the boys up and drive up and I'll pay for the cab if you don't have enough gas. Go ahead Axl, open the suitcase."
So Axl opens the suitcase and there's $50,000 in cash. And the manger says, "What do you think?" and Axl says, "With all due respect sir, whoever you are. That's not enough for Guns N' Roses. We're going to be bigger than that. It's just a matter of time. I'll say no politely and I'll go away and I'll make more money than this on our initial signing with my guys. What don't you help these guys out? They're deserving. They're probably not as great as we are but if you're going to piss it away, you might as well piss it away on them because you're already working with them. I gotta go rehearse. It was nice seeing all of you. Good bye." And we all applauded him. (laughs) What else do you do, you know?
So he called a cab. We had the money for the cab and he rode away. And I always thought of all the starving musicians I'd ever seen, even the ones who made it or didn't make it, he was the only one who knew exactly how valuable he was, and how not to panic. Because that's a lot of money for anyone. And he just wasn't interested. And of course they got 75 grand for signing with Geffen.
And the day they got the deal, they gave him the check. He came into Rainbow Bar & Grill, he saw me there and he remembered that I had recommended him. He said, "You'll appreciate this." And he opened his jacket and he had a check for $37, 500 which was half of $75,000 and then they would get the other half when they started the album. So he said, "See, I told you we'd get more." I said, "You did. When are you going to cash it?" He said, "Tomorrow, the banks are closed. So buy me dinner." "I said, okay." (laughs) So we did. And he sat there and he hustled this free dinner (laughing) and with his $37,500 he walked away. He had a steak dinner and we thought it was great. Good for him. And that's how I know Axl. I know THAT Axl. The kind of guy who kinda had it under control.