Tommy Rock

Kim Fowley fever hit late-'70s Los Angeles like a tongue in the ear. The Runaways had done as their name suggested, leaving the original Mayor of the Sunset Strip battling a case of empty nest syndrome. Topping a mountain of tapes in his closet was the song "Phone Call For Frank Sinatra," credited blandly to one Tom Johnson. A Long Islander with a comically thick accent to match, Johnson had come west for a shot behind the lens at UCLA's prestigious School of Theater, Film, and Television. Enamored with the Fowley-penned "Cherry Bomb" and "Do You Love Me"- the second-to-last song on Kiss's 1976 Destroyer LP- Johnson dropped a tape off at Fowley's Hollywood Boulevard office. No name, no lyrics, no photo, just a 213 phone number scribbled on the J-card. Fowley signed the bespectacled Johnson to a songwriting contract in October of 1977 and immediately set to messing with Johnson's boy-next-door image. Over the next year, Tommy Rock would join a band (the Dreamers), record a demo for Warner Bros., and issue a 45 on England's Spark label, all while holding down security guard duty at a West Hollywood Jack In The Box.

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