The Runaways were an all-female Hard Rock band from The '70s. Despite having a very short career, The Runaways hold the distinction of being the first successful all-female rock band, thus opening the door for a ton of other similar all-female/female-fronted bands. They have been cited as an important influence on the Riot Grrrl movement.
The band's members were:
- Cherie Currie - vocals, keyboards (1975-1977)
- Joan Jett - guitar, vocals
- Lita Ford - lead guitar
- Sandy West - drums, vocals
- Micki Steele - bass (1975)
- Peggy Foster - bass (1975)
- Jackie Fox - bass (1975-1977)
- Vicki Blue - bass (1977-1978)
- Laurie McAllister - bass (1978-1979)
The band was initially put together by Sandy West and Joan Jett, who met producer Kim Fowley and managed to get him interested in the concept of an all-female rock band. Fowley helped them recruit the other members - Currie, the 16-year old guitar wiz Ford and, after a succession of bass players, Fox - and produced their debut album, the hard rock/glam rock The Runaways. Released in 1976, Runaways became a success with critics and the record-buying public alike, and gave the band its signature song, "Cherry Bomb". Soon, the band found itself headlining shows alongside bands like Cheap Trick, The Ramones and Van Halen.
Despite being saddled with a "jailbait on the run gimmick" (whether this is Fowley's fault or theirs is still a matter of dispute), The Runaways proved to be skilled musicians and soon won an audience among the emerging Punk Rock movement and in Japan - they were the fourth most popular foreign band in Japan at the time and Jett compared their reception there to Beatlemania. After a long tour of Japan, Currie quit in 1977 and Jett assumed lead vocal duties.
The Runaways acrimoniously parted with manager and producer Kim Fowley in 1978, accusing him of being controlling as well as verbally and sexually abusive. This also caused them to leave their record label. After another, more tepidly-received solo album and tour, the band disbanded in 1979.
Out of all the members, Jett and Ford had the most success after the band's breakup - the former made a name for herself with her band The Blackhearts and her cover of "I Love Rock 'N' Roll", and the latter reemerged as a successful Hair Metal musician in The '80s.
Fox left the performing side of the music business and went on to attend Harvard Law School, where Barack Obama was among her classmates. She's now an entertainment attorney, but concentrates on representing movie and TV people.
A Biopic dealing with the band's career, named The Runaways, written and directed by Floria Sigismondi, was released in 2010. The film features: Kristen Stewart as Jett, Dakota Fanning as Currie, Stella Maeve as Sandy West, Scout-Taylor Compton as Ford and Michael Shannon as Fowley.
In 2015, Jackie Fox came forwards saying that she had been drugged and raped by Kim Fowley at a party while Joan and Cherie looked on laughing and doing nothing. After she and Jett received a severe internet backlash, Cherie wrote a reply on her Facebook page denying the claims and saying that "All I can say is if Joan, Sandy and I saw an unconscious girl being brutally raped in front of us, we would have hit him over the head with a chair." (Interestingly, Currie had said previously that she witnessed the event, spoke up and then stormed out of the room.) Jett also denied that the event had occurred, writing a post that said "Anyone who truly knows me understands that if I was aware of a friend or bandmate being violated, I would not stand by while it happened [...] For a group of young teenagers thrust into 70s rock stardom there were relationships that were bizarre, but I was not aware of this incident. Obviously Jackies story is extremely upsetting and although we havent spoken in decades, I wish her peace and healing."
Lita Ford also commented on the allegations, saying "[I]f anybody knew anything, it would have been [manager Scott Anderson], Cherie and Joan, and Scott now is passed away, along with Kim Fowley. But I do know that Jackie's not a liar, and if she says that somebody was watching her, and if she says that this happened, then I believe her; I do. She's a little extreme sometimes, but still it's not right. I really don't know what to say about it."
- The Runaways (1976)
- Queens of Noise (1977)
- Live in Japan (1977)
- Waitin' for the Night (1977)
- And Now... The Runaways (1978)
- Badass Boast: "Cherry Bomb"
- Breakup Breakout: Jett, and to a lesser extent Ford.
- Cover Version: "Rock and Roll" by the Velvet Underground.
- Cultural Rebel: What?! An all-female hard rock band?! Most unorthodox!
- In Name Only: In 1987, Kim Fowley put together a new Runaways. None of the original members were involved.
- Intercourse with You: Quite a bit.
- Jail Bait: They were in their mid-teens, but Cherie especially.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lita comes across this way in Cherie's autobiography. The movie makes her a straight up Jerk Ass which is probably why Lita doesn't care for it.
- Musical World Hypotheses: Lampshaded in "Dead End Justice".
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: The band just couldn't seem to hold onto one. In the movie, the bassist is a Composite Character, Robyn Robbins, who has no spoken lines.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Cherie Currie wore a corset/basque, with garters and stockings, as her on-stage ensemble. Oh my.
- Power Ballad: "Heartbeat".
- Precision F-Strike: "You're Too Possessive".
- Spoken Word in Music: "Dead End Justice".
- The Svengali: Kim Fowley, who basically molded the group and allegedly abused the members. This picture◊ provides a pretty good idea of what a scumbag he was.
- Token Minority: Back when they began, they were
probablythe only all-female rock band to gain major success.
- Trope Codifier: First all-female rock band that was known by the general public (Goldie and the Gingerbreads and Fanny came before, but who remembers them?). Lita Ford has commented in interviews, such as on NPR's Fresh Air, that she hears a lot of the Runaways in both all-female acts and in female-led acts such as Halestorm. And possibly for Underwear of Power in music.