First, let's get one thing straight: despite rumors to the |
contrary, the band did not suck and they were more than
pawns of Kim Fowley. They were a great band that was ahead
of their time, not outdated before they started, as some
would have you believe. This is in reply to some other web
sites that have inaccurate, unkind pages dedicated to the
Runaways. With that said... Onto the real history...
1975: The Beginning
As far as I can tell, it all started when 14 year old Kari Krome approached
Kim Fowley at an Alice Cooper party in 1975. She discussed lyrics with
Kim and he was impressed, but Kari wanted them sung by girls her own age.
All that was needed was a couple of girls to play the music. Enter, Kari's
17 year old friend Joan Larkin (A.K.A. Joan Jett) whom she met at Rodney
Bingeheimer's English disco in Hollywood, and Sandy Pesavento (A.K.A.
Sandy West) was met by Fowley in the parking lot of the Rainbow Bar. Kari
was to be the lead singer with Joan on guitars and Sandy on Drums. The
three girls played together and on August 5, 1975 Fowley decided that
while Kari was a great lyricist, she couldn't sing. So Kim brought in
Sue Thomas (A.K.A. Micki Steele). The band started seriously looking for
a lead guitarist and bassist. When they couldn't find any Kim found someone
to teach Joan to play lead and got Steppenwolf's Nick St. Nicholas to
teach Micki to play bass. Their first gig, I think, was at the home of
"Phast Phreddie" in Torrance, in Sept. of 1975.
The First Recording
The three of them- Joan, Sandy, and Micki recorded a demo album, later
titled Born to Be Bad. While the band was together this album was not
released. I believe it saw its first release in America in 1991. Lita
Ford was auditioned through Backdoor magazine, a trade periodical. Some
time later Joan and Kim (yes she was still involved) were at the Sugar
Shack (an underage disco) where they met Marie and Cherie Currie. First
they asked Marie to join, she said "No", so they asked Cherie.They liked
her looks (she's Blonde), auditioned her, hired her and fired Micki. According
to another report Micki left because she didn't like the toughness of
the band's image. Either way don't feel to bad for her she later found
her fifteen minutes with the Bangles. To round things out and add a little
maturity to the band they also hired a nineteen year old bassist named
Peggy. Supposedly about two weeks after Peggy joined she and Cherie had
an arguement as to who was going to sing lead on a ballad called "I'm
Your Fantasy", which became "You're My Fantasy" (Ironic considering it
was never released). After the argument Peggy left (so much for Bassist
number two). Jacquline Fuchs (AKA Jackie Fox), who had earlier auditioned
to play Lead Guitar, was asked by Kim Fowley, with whom she had kept in
touch, if she could play Bass, in early Dec. '75. Well, she didn't tell
him "No" which might have been the truth, as she had never actually played
one before. (Some people say that this was a compromise as Jackie reporedtly
threatened to start her own all-girl band.)
1976: The "Original" Lineup is Established; Record
A couple of weeks before Jackie joined the Runaways a recording deal was
made with Bomp Records (Born to be Bad was, eventually, released on Marilyn
Records, which is a subsidiary of Bomp Records). Mercury, however became
interested, after seeing them play at a teenage nightclub in Cedar Grove,
Ca and in Febuary 1976 a contract was made and "The Runaways" album was
produced, in May '76:With Cherie as the lead singer; Joan on Rhythm Guitar;
Sandy on Drums; Lita on Guitars; Jackie on Bass. Enter "Jailbait Rockers."
With songs like Cherry Bomb and Cherie appearing on stage in stockings,
suspenders and lingerie that stereotype was inevitable.
Second Album: Live: Band begins to breakup
Earle Mankey, the producer of "Sparks" and the "Beach Boys" and
more recently "Star Star" was brought in to co-produce the Runaways' second
album titled "Queens of Noise." That same year they went on tour and produced
their Live album entitled "Live in Japan." After the tour Jackie decided
to leave the band. Despite rumors to the contrary, and what the inside
of the "And Now...The Runaways" says, Jackie did not attempt to commit
suicide. A number of issues had arissen, and the distance between Japan
and America caused some misunderstandings. Supposedly, Jackie played a
rare and expensive bass and asked their agent to insure it which he said
he did, but didn't. It then broke when it fell off the stand that it was
on. That coupled with the fact that she had convinced Jack Douglas, Aerosmith's
producer to produce the band, and the other band members never acted on
it. That was why she had decided to quit. However, she had cut herself
on some glass, while in Japan, shortly before she quit. That and the distance,
as I mentioned, before, created the suicide rumors. Shortly after Jackie
had announced her retirement from the band, More bad news came. Cherie
announced that she too would be leaving the band.
1977/1978: A Foursome Anyone? Vickie Blue Joins,
Kim Fowley leaves
To replace Jackie, the Runaways brought in Vickie Tischler Blue. Cherie
was not replaced, Joan took over as lead vocalist. Fowley produced one
more album titled "Waitin' for the Night." This was their first studio
album that did not hit the charts. Kim Fowely got tired of playing G-d
with his jailbait band and so left them, high and dry. They brought in
Phil Wainman to produce, but he quickly left, thereby postponing the recording
of their next album. The Runaways asked Suzi Quatro and Blondie's producer,
Toby Mamis to produce them, he then brought in John Alcock (Thin Lizzy's
producer). In September 1978 they produced "And Now...The Runaways", their
fourth studio album. This album only appeared in Europe and Asia. It was
released, with the songs in a different order, in America as "Little Lost
Girls" in 1981. At this time the musical variety of the girls was starting
to cause some friction amongst them. Joan liked Punk rock and Sandy and
Lita liked heavy metal/ hard rock. By 1980 the band was totally disbanded.
Cherie Currie and Vicki Blue tried a joint effort called the Currie Blue
Band. Cherie also got together with her sister Marie, but that too fell
apart without much success.
New Years Eve 1978. That was the day of their final gig, it was in San
Fransisco. An album with previously unreleased songs, called "Flaming
Schoolgirls", was released in 1980, it is unauthorized by the Runaways,
and contains reissues and outtakes from "The Runaways" and "Queens of
After the breakup
After the Runaways broke up, Lita put together a band with Sandy. They
were originally looking for a male singer, but couldn't find anyone with
talent or originality. Lita took singing lessons, by holing herself in
her garage, and they put together a three-piece with a guy bassist. They
didn't release any albums.
Most of the band members got together to sue Kim and the record companies.
According to Lauren Varga The girls got $175,000 a piece in back money.
Seems like a drop in the bucket to me.
|| This story and photo are from KenSternation|
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