From 1976 to 1979 The Runaways Rocked the globe with a crowd reaction just this side of the first wave of Beatlemania. They may have been in their teens but they delivered Rock n Roll that rivaled and often blew other bands of the male-dominated world off the stage. They didn’t perform like young women, they unleashed a Beast of not only sound but controversy.
Vocalist Cherie Currie, Bassist Jackie Fox, and Drummer Sandy West were flanked by two incredible guitarists named Joan Jett and Lita Ford. The band was managed and Mismanaged by the Legendary if dubious Kim Fowley. He certainly knew what he was doing, good-bad, or ugly. Morals or Law didn’t matter to him. He was Guru, producer, and promoter.
He was Villian and Savior depending on the situation. Fowley died in 2015 amid a wealth of allegations from many women in the Music Industry of sexual abuse, doubtful many tears were shed in those circles.
The Runaways were signed to Mercury Records and 1976 with their self-titled debut and toured America supporting bands like the Talking Heads, Cheap Trick, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers just to name a few.
By 1977 Japan had the band at Goddess Like status with the album “Queens of Noise” leading to “Live in Japan”. Japan was a Hurricane of debauchery and abuse of all nature but the band delivered astoundingly no matter when and where.
While in Japan, Fox left the band shortly before the group was scheduled to appear at the 1977 Tokyo Music Festival. She told the Telegraph her relationship with the band deteriorated after Fowley assaulted her in front of a roomful of people. Jett took over bass duties until the group returned home and recruited Vicki Blue. Currie then left the group after a blow-up with Ford in the fall of 1977 Jett, who had previously shared vocals with Currie, took over lead vocals full-time. The band released their fourth album, Waitin’ for the Night, and started a world tour in support of the Ramones.
THE RUNAWAYS – Wasted (1977 UK TV Appearance) ~ HIGH QUALITY HQ ~
Disagreement among band members included the musical style; Jett wanted the band to make a musical change, shifting towards punk rock/glam rock while Ford and West wanted to continue playing hard rock/heavy metal music. Neither would accept the other’s point of view. The band played their last concert on New Year’s Eve 1978 at the Cow Palace and officially broke up in April 1979.
During the short-lived run, they made 5 albums that started the clarity that women could rock as hard or even harder than the Men. They Broke the Glass ceiling, they launched many a Female group and they set the bar for women as not just pretty faces and objects.
A Documentry film about the Runaways:Edgeplay
The members were shattered after years of nonstop work, abuse of all manner from Fowley yet all regained their lives and pressed on.
Jett and Ford would be the most driven and most successful in their own careers. Both were and are still ferocious entertainers. I Finally saw Joan live a couple of years back and was thrilled to have taken my Daughter to Her first Rock Concert and not only did Jett play as the years had never touched her but I found it fitting to be able to have her be a young lady’s first show. She’s an inspiring individual and not everyone’s role model but for my “Kid thing,” it was perfect reinforcement of the “take no shit” attitude she already possessed.
There seems to have never been any love lost between Jett and Ford. Each excelled at their chosen path. Jett went on to work with producer Kenny Laguna and after being rejected by 23 record labels, formed their own label, Blackheart Records, in 1980.
In doing so, Jett became one of the first female recording artists to found her own record label. The label continues to release albums by the Blackhearts and other bands.
Ford returned to PolyGram as a solo artist in the 1980s, where she released several albums before pairing with manager Sharon Osbourne. She had success with songs like “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever” (the second a duet with her manager’s husband Ozzy.
Ozzy Osbourne And Lita Ford – Close My Eyes Forever (HQ)
Lita is still Going as well, no surprise to any of us she recently played in San Antonio, Vegas, and the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, PA, the US where she played with Alice Cooper and Telsa
Lita Ford “Kiss Me Deadly” – live – Mar 14 2020 80’s Cruise
Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (Live)
JOAN JETT…CRIMSON AND CLOVER…LIVE..PARAMOUNT,LI..9/28/21
The other members of various incarnations of The Runaways Mickie Steele, Peggy Foster, and Laurie McAllister must be given credit. Cherie Has worked with most if not all former members in various situations but the band have never come together as the Unit in full and it may never.
Regardless their Music is as valid today as ever, their story is as captivating. They scorched the Earth for those short years and will always be one of the foundations in Rock Music. Tough as Nails. Not a word or note wasted.