Sunday, October 30, 2011

More Than Just Jailbait: The Runaways

"People don't want to see women doing things they don't think women should do." - Joan Jett

I have always been a fan of vintage rock. I'm a kid of the 90's but my taste in music goes as far as the 70's. So you'd imagine my excitement when I discovered about The Runaways, the first and pioneering all-girl rock band of the 70's, being a teenage rocker-wannabe back when I was in high school. Embarrassing to admit, but I found out about them after watching The Runaways (2010), a supposed biopic of the band's life in the music industry, casting Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett. The movie focused on Cherie Currie mainly, since the story was based on her book, Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway.

My personal favorites among their songs are "Cherry Bomb","Hollywood","California Paradise","I Love Playing With Fire",and "Gotta Get Out Tonight."
Photo Credit

Who knew that this innocent-looking child actress would bag the role of a teeanage rockstar battling with drugs at 16?

For those who may not know and think that the 2010 movie The Runaways is a purely fictional movie about teenagers on drugs, here's a quick history:

Joan Jett and Sandy West were the first to form the Runaways in 1975, having dreams of creating an all-girl rock band. Jett is a self-taught guitar player and West has been a drummer for heavy metal bands. The two approached Kim Fowley who agreed to take them in and find other members to form the band. The final line-up consisted of Cherie Currie on vocals, who was found in the Sugar Shack, Lita Ford on guitars, Joan Jett on rhythms and vocals, and Sandy West on the drums. None of the bassists who auditioned stayed long enough. They had Micki Steele, Jackie Fox, and Vicky Blue.

The band got signed by Mercury Records in 1976 and released the self-titled album which was followed by a U.S. tour.

In 1977, the band released their second album, Queens of Noise, and headed on to a sold-out tour in Japan. They were welcomed by ecstatic fans there and they released the album Live In Japan (The Runaways album) which instantly went gold. It was at this time that Fox left the band, to be replaced by Jett and then by Blue.

Cherie Currie was the next one to leave, leaving Jett as main vocals of the band. They released their fourth albim, Waiting for the Night, in 1977 and had a worldwide tour with The Ramones. The Runaways parted ways with Mercury Records and Kim Fowley in 1978 due to certain rumors regarding abuse. After this, they released their final album, "And Now... The Runaways" and disbanded for good.

The real Runaways
The Runaways (L-R) Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, Sandy West, Lita Ford and Jackie Fox

Joan Jett went on to continue playing music. She's still currently enjoying a solo career that included a slot on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour, and her own label, Blackheart Records. She was one of the two women to be named by Rolling Stones magazine as one of  the 100 greatest guitar players of all time. She is well known for her hits "I Love Rock 'N' Roll", "Bad Reputation", and "Crimson and Clover."

Lita Ford performed solo and is best known for her songs "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Close My Eyes Forever," a song she sang with Ozzy Osbourne.

Sandy West formed her own band called the Sandy West Band and toured up until the 90's. She passed away in October 2006 after being diagnosed with cancer a year back.

Cherie Currie released poorly-accepted albums with her twin sister, Marie, along with her acting career. She is now a chainsaw artist in California.

They may not have gone as far as being the "female Beatles" but they began a revolution in the music industry. They may have started as jailbait rock and The Runaways may have died that way, but their music and their purpose, especially Joan Jett's, lives on.

"Only because The Runaways were my baby and there's no reason to get it back together except to totally have fun. If that's not the goal, then I don't want to do it." - Joan Jett Source

Not only were Joan Jett and Cherie Currie music icons of their era, they were also named by Elle as the music industry's 25 most influential and intreoid style icons. Cherie Currie has been known for her heavy metallic eye makeup, chunky heels, glitzy tops, and head-to-toe lingerie outfits. Her bandmate on the other hand, is popularly decked in all-black outfits, starting with dark eye makeup, motorcycle jackets, and trusty old Converse sneakers.
Photo Credit
I have created a few outfits inspired by Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. I'm planning to actually have a photoshoot wherein I'm wearing outfits inspired by their style as an ode to their music and their history.

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