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The Runaways were an American all-girl teenage rock band that performed in the 1970s. The band is best known for the songs "Cherry Bomb", "Queens of Noise", "Rock n Roll", "Neon Angels (On the Road to Ruin)", and "Born to Be Bad". The career of the band was short (1975–1979).

Early years

The Runaways were formed in late 1975 by drummer Sandy West and rhythm guitarist Joan Jett. They had introduced themselves (on separate occasions) to producer Kim Fowley stating their ideas to form an all-girl band. Fowley, who was always looking for the next big thing, gave Jett's phone number to West. The two met on their own to discuss the possibilities. After rehearsing together, the pair contacted Fowley to let him hear the results. Fowley then helped the girls find the other members.

Although Fowley would continue to take credit in the press for creating the band and the music, he would later admit, "I didn't put The Runaways together, I had an idea, they had ideas, we all met, there was combustion and out of five different versions of that group came the five girls who were the ones that people liked".

Starting as a power trio with bassist Micki Steele, The Runaways began the party and club circuit around Los Angelesmarker. In 1976, they added 16-year-old lead guitarist Lita Ford and lead singer Cherie Currie to the lineup. Bassist Micki Steele left the group, later resurfacing in The Bangles. An unknown local bassist named Peggy Foster took over on bass but also left after only a few weeks. Kim Fowley then brought Ann Boleyn, who later went on to perform with Hellion and Detente, as the bass player. Finally, Jackie Fox (who had originally auditioned for the lead guitar spot) was added on bass, and the line up was complete.


The Runaways were signed to Mercury Records in 1976 and their debut album, The Runaways, was released shortly after. The band toured the U.S. and played numerous sold out shows. They headlined shows with opening acts such as Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, The Ramones, and Van Halen. The documentary Edgeplay revealed that each girl patterned herself after her idols: Currie patterned her look after David Bowie, Jett after Suzi Quatro and Keith Richards, Ford as a cross between Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and Jeff Beck, West after Queen drummer Roger Taylor, and Fox after Kiss bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons .

Their second album, Queens of Noise was released in 1977 and the band began a world tour. The Runaways quickly became lumped in with the growing punk rock movement. The band (already fixtures on the West Coast punk scene) formed alliances with East Coast punk bands such as Blondie, The Ramones and The Dead Boys (via New York City's CBGBmarker's) as well as the British punk scene by hanging out with the likes of The Damned, Generation X and The Sex Pistols.

In the summer of 1977 the group arrived in Japan for a string of sold out shows. The Runaways were the number 4 imported music act in Japan at the time, behind only Led Zeppelin, ABBA, and Kiss in terms of album sales and popularity. The girls were unprepared for the onslaught of fans that greeted them at the airport. The mass hysteria was later described by guitarist Jett as being "like Beatlemania". While in Japan, The Runaways had their own TV special, did numerous television appearances and released a live album that went gold. While in Japan, bassist Jackie Fox left the band shortly before the group was scheduled to appear at the 1977 Tokyo Music Festival. Jett temporarily took over bass duties and when the group returned home they replaced Fox with 17 year old Vicki Blue.

Singer Cherie Currie then left the group and Jett, who previously shared vocals with Currie, took over lead vocals full time. The band released their 4th album, Waiting For The Night and started a world tour with their friends The Ramones. Currie released a solo LP Beauty's Only Skin Deep, produced by Kim Fowley, and began a separate U.S. tour, which included her identical twin sister Marie.


Due to disagreements over money and the management of the band, The Runaways and Kim Fowley parted ways in 1978. The group quickly hired new management, who also worked for Blondie and Suzi Quatro. When the group split with Fowley, they also parted with their record label Mercury/Polygram, to which their deal was tied. In the Edgeplay documentary, members of the group (especially Fox and Currie) as well as the parents of Currie and West, have accused Fowley and others assigned to look after the band of using divide and conquer tactics to keep control of the band, as well as verbal and sexual abuse of the band members.

Bassist Vicki Blue left the group and was replaced by Laurie McAllister. The band reportedly spent much time enjoying the excesses of the rock n' roll lifestyle during this time. They partnered with Thin Lizzy producer John Alcock, (after Jett's future partner Kenny Laguna turned down the job) to record their last album And Now ... The Runaways.

The band played their last concert on New Year's Eve 1978 and broke up in April 1979.


Year Month Drums, percussion & vocals Rhythm guitar & vocals Bass guitar Lead guitar Vocals & keyboards
1975 8-10 Sandy West Joan Jett Micky Steele - -
10-11 Lita Ford
11-12 Peggy Foster Cherie Currie
12 Jackie Fox
1976 1-12
1977 1-6
6-7 (Joan Jett)
7-8 Vicki Blue
8-12 -
1978 1-9
9-12 Laurie McAllister
1979 1-4


Joan Jett

Joan Jett went on to become a partner and work with producer and former Shondell Kenny Laguna. After being rejected by 23 record labels, they formed their own label, Blackheart Records, in 1980. In doing so, Jett became the first female recording artist to found her own record label. The label continues to release albums by The Blackhearts, and also other new up and coming bands. Jett went on to have massive success with a cover of The Arrows song "I Love Rock 'N' Roll", as well as other hits such as "Crimson and Clover", "Bad Reputation" and "I Hate Myself For Loving You". Jett also co-starred in the 1987 film Light of Day with Michael J. Fox, and appeared in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show as Columbia.

Sandy West

Sandy West continued her association with John Alcock once the group disbanded. She and Lita Ford attempted to record some music, but nothing materialized. She formed the Sandy West Band and toured California throughout the '80s and '90s. She also did session work with John Entwistle of The Who and became a drum teacher. West was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and, after many treatments, succumbed to the disease in October 2006. A memorial tribute concert featuring The Sandy West Band, Cherie Currie, The Bangles, The Donnas, Carmine Appice, Vinny Appice, and several others, was held in Los Angeles.

Micki Steele

Micki Steele joined the all girl band The Bangles in the early 1980s and went on to huge success with songs like "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Eternal Flame".

Lita Ford

Lita Ford returned as a solo artist to Polygram in the 1980s, where she released several albums before pairing with manager Sharon Osbourne. She also had success with songs like "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Close My Eyes Forever" (the second a duet with Sharon's husband Ozzy Osbourne). She is currently married to former Nitro singer Jim Gillette. They have two young sons. After a long hiatus, Ford staged a comeback, performing at Rock The Bayou, and other hard-rock festivals during the summer of 2008. She is due to release Wicked Wonderland, her first studio album in 14 years, on 6 October, 2009.

Cherie Currie

Cherie Currie went on to start an acting career. She appeared in movies with Jodie Foster (Foxes), Demi Moore (Parasite), and The Twilight Zone: The Movie, as well as others and released a 1978 solo music album entitled Beauty's Only Skin Deep and a 1980 duet album with her sister Marie and the band Toto called Messin' With The Boys. Currie married actor Robert Hays; they have a son together, and split up in 1997. Currie still performs and records but her current passion is chainsaw carving. She has an art gallery in Chatsworth, Californiamarker where her works are currently on display.

Jackie Fox

Jackie Fox went to Harvardmarker and became a lawyer. She has lived abroad and is an amateur photographer.

Vicki Blue

Vicki Blue, now known as Victory Tischler Blue, briefly had a band with singer Cherie Currie in the early '80s (Currie-Blue Band), but never released an album, though they did appear together in the film This is Spinal Tap. After leaving The Runaways, she shifted her focus to film and television production eventually becoming a producer/director for several reality and magazine based television shows, including Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood & Real Stories of the Highway Patrol - receiving an Emmy nomination along the way. She went on to form Sacred Dogs Entertainment - a motion picture production company and released a documentary on The Runaways called Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways. Edgeplay went on to win numerous awards and became the highest rated rock documentary film on the Showtime Networks.In 2005, Victory Tischler-Blue directed "Naked Under Leather", a documentary about fellow female rocker, Suzi Quatro. Focusing on music driven productions, she is currently executive producing a network special: The Bee Gees "Unbroken Fever" - The 30th Anniversary of Saturday Night Fever (2007). Additionally, Tischler-Blue and former bandmate Lita Ford have teamed up together with Ford recording music for El Guitarista, an animated series that Sacred Dogs Entertainment is producing.

Laurie McAllister

Laurie McAllister joined another Kim Fowley all-girl band, The Orchids, who released one poorly received LP in 1980. The original Orchids members were Laurie Bell on drums, Jan King on vocals, Laurie McAllister on bass, Sunbie Sinn, and Sandy Fury.Che Zuro replaced Sandy Fury (see: Risciso) who went on to appear on New Wave Theatre as The Clique with bassist Mark Frere from Steppenwolf. Laurie McAllister lives in Oregon and no longer performs music.


UK newspaper The Guardian called The Runaways "a young band whose vision has proved highly influential", and L.A. Weekly called The Runaways an "enormously influential band.", noting that after The Runaways' success, everything had changed for female rock musicians. The Runaways' success paved the way for many successful female artists and female bands over the past 30 years, including The Go-Go's, Sahara Hotnights, L7, and especially The Donnas, to enter the male dominated arena of rock music. They are named as influences by several male and female artists, including Germs, Courtney Love, White Flag, and Rhino Bucket who acknowledged The Runaways' influence on their music during their performance at the December 2006 tribute concert honoring Sandy West.


The Runaways, a biographical film based on the band, began filming in June 2009, with actresses Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning cast as Jett and Currie, respectively. Stella Maeve has been cast as Sandy West while Scout Taylor-Compton will play Lita Ford. Michael Shannon is set to play manager Kim Fowley. None of the band's former bass players will be featured in the film, and the character of the bass player will instead be ficticious. Art Linson, John Linson and Bill Pohlad are the film's producers, and Jett is an executive producer. The film was written and directed by Floria Sigismondi, and is slated for a 2010 release. Stewart said that she hopes to be able to sing some of the songs in the film.

Use in media

"Cherry Bomb" appeared on the soundtracks of Dawn, Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, Detroit Rock City, RV, and Dazed and Confused.



  2. notes and information from Edgeplay: A film about The Runaways
  3. All Right You Guys (VIDEO)
  4. Runaways Timeline | | The Official Runaways Website
  5. Sauro, Tony. "Q&A with Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna" Stockton Record April 24, 2008
  6. Light Of Day at Internet Movie Database.
  7. Joan Jett bio at Internet Movie Database
  8. Sandy West Memorial Concert details and list of performers.
  9. Naked Under Leather (2004)
  10. The Guardian UK (England). October 23, 2006] Obituary for Sandy West.
  11. L.A. Weekly, December 8-14, 2006, p.127
  12. entry for The Go-Go's
  13. entry for Sahara Hotnights
  14. entry for L7
  15. White Flag's Official site, and their Myspace web sites
  16. .

  • Includes information from the official Website of The Runaways and the band members websites.

External links

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