Kim Fowley, an influential West Coast producer and musician considered a rock and roll Svengali, died today (Thursday) of cancer, according to Variety. He was 75.

An L.A. native and son of the actor Douglas Fowley, he graduated University High School with classmates and future stars Jan Berry, Dean Torrence and Bruce Johnston.

The first hit he produced went right to number-one — The Hollywood Argyles‘ “Alley Oop.” His run of pop success continued when he adapted Tchaikovsky‘s melody “Flight of the Bumble Bee” into the instrumental “Nut Rocker” and jumped on the girl group bandwagon with The Murmaids‘ Top 5 smash “Popsicles and Icicles.”

But he came into this own after the British Invasion rebooted the world of rock. He became a major player on the Sunset Strip rock scene, working with ground-breakers and rebels Frank Zappa and Warren Zevon, producing the garage rockers The Seeds, and writing for The Byrds.

Fowley is best known as the mastermind behind The Runaways, considered rock’s first important all-girl band to play their own instruments. He produced their first two albums — and has been credited by both Joan Jett and Lita Ford, who went onto important solo careers, as a strong influence. Actor Michael Shannon portrayed him in the 2010 bio-pic about the band.