A couple of weeks ago, I finished a great book about the teenage female rock band from the mid-Seventies known as the Runaways. This book, titled Queens of Noise: The Real Story of The Runaways and written by Evelyn McDonnell, was great at bringing back to those relative innocent days of the bicentennial, when the whole world was less uptight and ultimately less threatened by change. Except, when it came to women actually playing rock music aggressively, totally aimed at the groin. Enter Sixties rock impresario Kim Fowley and five teenaged (for the perverts out there, “jailbait”) female musicians. The five, whom Fowley christened as the “Fabulous Five” where sixteen-, seventeen-, eighteen-year-old young ladies by the name of Sandy West (drums), Jackie Fox (bass), Cherie Currie (singer), Lita Ford (yes, THAT Lita Ford, on lead guitar) and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett (rhythm guitar).
Back in 1976, I had read a few articles about this band called The Runaways from LA, who played music that fell someone between glam , punk and metal. But, what these young ladies did was change the rock forever. Even though this five-some never reached the top of the charts, they did build the road for women to rock their way to stardom, whether the women were part of the Go-Go’s, The Bangles, L7, Hole, Vixen, The Donnas or any of the others. The Runaways took the sexist remarks, the perverted statements and leers, and other forms of sexual harassment and abuse to make it easier for the women of today to rock out for a living.
My advice to you is to go out and find versions of the bands’ first two albums, so you will get the fundamentals of women who rock. You might want to find the CDs, since they will be much cheaper than the vinyl versions. As a matter of fact, I had purchased that first eponymous Runaways’ album back in 1976, when I was just beginning my eighth grade year in middle school. If I still had that album today, it is worth over $100. Go figure! Anyway, I must be honest, I was NOT prepared for the rock that The Runaways had recorded for their debut album. The music was raw, primal, every bit as a punk rock classic as the first Ramones album, also eponymously titled).
From the opening song, The Runaways’ anthem “Cherry Bomb” through the last song, the rocking “Dead End Justice,” these girls took on juvenile delinquent personas, but each unique to her personality. For example, Lita was the spandex-sporting metal goddess, Joan the punk rocker, Cherrie the good girl turned bad, Jackie the girl next door and Sandy the California beach baby, who were all tough and beautiful. But, what has been lost throughout the years was how great of musicians each one was, especially drummer Sandy West, to whom history was never kind.
If deserving bands such as the Velvet Underground and The Stooges can get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as towering influences more than commercial successes, then The Runaways should be held in the same high esteem that they are currently being held by the young pop and rock artists of both sexes today. Check out both of those first two Runaways’ albums. They are classics. Then tell me, are they punk, metal or just plain rock? Aw, who cares! They rock!