The Runaways

The Runaways were an all-female teenage American rock band that recorded and performed in the second half of the 1970s. The band released four studio albums and one live set during its run. Among their best-known songs are "Cherry Bomb", "Hollywood", "Queens of Noise" and a cover version of the Velvet Underground’s "Rock & Roll". Never a major success in the United States, the Runaways became a sensation overseas, especially in Japan, thanks to the hit single "Cherry Bomb".

The Runaways
The Runaways in 1976 (clockwise from top left): Lita Ford, Sandy West, Jackie Fox, Joan Jett, Cherie Currie
The Runaways in 1976 (clockwise from top left): Lita Ford, Sandy West, Jackie Fox, Joan Jett, Cherie Currie
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
Years active1975–1979
Associated acts
Past members


Early yearsEdit

The Runaways were formed in late 1975 by drummer Sandy West and guitarist Joan Jett after they had both introduced themselves to producer Kim Fowley, who gave Jett's phone number to West. The two met on their own at West's home and later called Fowley to let him hear the outcome. Fowley then helped the girls find other members. Two decades later he said, "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."[5]

Starting as a power trio with singer/bassist Micki Steele, the Runaways began the party and club circuit around Los Angeles. They soon added lead guitarist Lita Ford, who had originally auditioned for the bass spot; Jett switched to rhythm guitar. Steele was fired from the group, replaced by local bassist Peggy Foster, who left after just one month. Lead singer Cherie Currie was found and recruited in a local teen nightclub called the Sugar Shack, followed by Jackie Fox (who had originally auditioned for the lead guitar spot) on bass.[5]


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. Their early shows included sharing a bill with such groups as Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Talking Heads, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.[6] The documentary Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways, directed by former Runaway bassist Vicki Blue revealed each girl patterned herself after an idol: Currie on David Bowie, Jett on Suzi Quatro, Ford a cross between Jeff Beck and Ritchie Blackmore, West on Roger Taylor, and Fox on Gene Simmons.[7]

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 mostly male punk bands such as the Ramones and the Dead Boys (via New York City's CBGB) 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, their booking agent David Libert sent the group to Japan, where they played a string of sold-out shows. The Runaways were the number four imported music act in Japan at the time, behind ABBA, Kiss and Led Zeppelin in album sales and popularity.[citation needed] They were unprepared for the onslaught of fans that greeted them at the airport. Jett later described the mass hysteria as "like Beatlemania".[7] While in Japan, the Runaways had their own TV special, did numerous television appearances and released the album Live in Japan, which went gold. Also in Japan, Fox left the band shortly before the group was scheduled to appear at the 1977 Tokyo Music Festival. She told the Telegraph her relationship with the band deteriorated after Fowley raped her in front of a roomful of people. Jett took over bass duties until the group returned home and recruited Vicki Blue.

Currie then left the group after a blow-up with Ford in the fall of 1977. Jett, who had previously shared vocals with Currie, took over lead vocals full-time. The band released their fourth album, Waitin' 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 Fowley, and began a separate U.S. tour, which included her identical twin sister Marie. Mercury Records chose not to release Currie's album in the U.S., although it was available as a pricey import via France. In 1980, billed as Cherie and Marie Currie, the sisters released an album for Capitol, Messin' with the Boys, produced by Jai Winding. Featured on the album was Steve Lukather, who later married Marie Currie. Cherie and Marie's single "Since You Been Gone" peaked at number 95 on U.S. charts.


Due to disagreements over money and the management of the band, the Runaways and Kim Fowley parted ways in 1977. The group quickly hired new management, Toby Mamis, 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 broken promises as to schooling and other care, using divide and conquer tactics to keep control of the band, along with the verbal taunting of band members. 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.

Blue left the group due to medical problems and was briefly replaced by Laurie McAllister in November 1978. Laurie McAllister was referred to the band by her neighbor, Duane Hitchings, who played keyboards on And Now... The Runaways. Before joining the Runaways, McAllister played with Baby Roulette and the Rave Ons, who had one song released on a Kim Fowley compilation LP called Vampires From Outer Space. McAllister appeared onstage with the Runaways at their final shows in California during the last weeks of December 1978 and she quit soon after in January 1979.

Disagreement among band members included the musical style; Joan Jett wanted the band to take a musical change, shifting towards punk rock/glam rock while Lita Ford and Sandy West wanted to continue playing hard rock/heavy metal music.[8] Neither would accept the other's point of view.[9] Finally, the band played their last concert[10] on New Year's Eve 1978 at the Cow Palace near San Francisco and officially broke up in April 1979.


The Runaways post 1979
Joan Jett in the 1980s
Micki Steele in 2003
Cherie Currie in 2010
Lita Ford in 1988

Joan JettEdit

Jett went on to 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 one of the first female recording artists to found her own record label.[11] 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,[12] and appeared in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show as Columbia.[13] Jett is also on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". In 2013, she released a new studio album titled Unvarnished which charted number 47 on U.S. charts. In 2015, she and her band The Blackhearts were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[14] She continues playing and touring all over the world to this day.

Sandy WestEdit

West continued her association with John Alcock once the group disbanded. She and Ford attempted to record some music, but nothing materialized. She formed the Sandy West Band and toured California throughout the 1980s and 1990s, sometimes with Cherie Currie. She also did session work with John Entwistle of The Who and became a drum teacher. West was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005 and, after many treatments, succumbed to the disease in October 2006. A memorial tribute concert was later held in Los Angeles, featuring the Sandy West Band, Cherie Currie, The Bangles, The Donnas, and Carmine and Vinny Appice, among several others.

Micki SteeleEdit

Steele joined the band The Bangles in the early 1980s and went on to success with songs such as "Manic Monday", "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Eternal Flame".

Cherie CurrieEdit

Upon leaving the Runaways, Currie released a 1978 solo album titled Beauty's Only Skin Deep and a 1980 duet album with her sister Marie Currie, Messin' with the Boys, in which the duo was backed by most of Toto. Cherie and Marie Currie's song "Since You Been Gone" charted number 95 on U.S. charts. She also appeared in a number of films, most notably Foxes with Jodie Foster. Throughout the 1990s, Currie worked as a drug counselor for addicted teens and as a personal fitness trainer. She married actor Robert Hays; they have a son together, Jake Hays, but the couple divorced in 1997.

Currie still performs and records but her current passion is chainsaw carving. She has an art gallery in Chatsworth, California where her works are currently on display. She is also currently under contract with Jett's Blackheart Records label.

In 2012, she has been recording songs co-written with her son Jake, produced by Steve Lukather. Lukather suspended the project for summer 2012, to go on tour with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.[15] In the meantime, Currie announced plans to perform and possibly record new material with Lita Ford.[16]

In 2013, Cherie recorded two songs with Alexx Michael for the Munich-based hard rock-glam metal supergroup Shameless, which were released on the album Beautiful Disaster on October 2, 2013.[17][18]

Lita FordEdit

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 her manager's husband Ozzy Osbourne). She was married to Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P., and to former Nitro singer Jim Gillette, with whom she has two sons. After a long hiatus, Ford staged a comeback, performing at Rock The Bayou,[19] and other hard-rock festivals during the summer of 2008. She released Wicked Wonderland, her first studio album in 14 years, on October 6, 2009. During 2009, Lita toured as a special guest during many shows of the American Soldier tour for the progressive metal band, Queensrÿche where she performed two songs from Wicked Wonderland and reprised her duet "Close My Eyes Forever" with Queensrÿche lead singer, Geoff Tate. Ford is also currently making her rounds on television, appearing on VH1's Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp, That Metal Show, and recently filmed a guest spot on the Nickelodeon show Big Time Rush.

In early 2012, Ford announced that she would likely be touring, and possibly recording new songs, with Cherie Currie.[16]

Jackie FoxEdit

Fox returned to using her birth name of Fuchs and graduated from UCLA summa cum laude, with a B.A. in Linguistics and Italian, and received her J.D. from Harvard becoming a lawyer, focusing on entertainment.[20] She co-wrote "Delilah's Scissors" with Tischler-Blue and executive-produced and appeared in Edgeplay, Tischler-Blue's 2005 documentary about the Runaways.[7] She also writes an L.A. cat care column for[21] and is an occasional contributor to[22] Fuchs has a popular website and blog at and was the first guest blogger for the Environmental Working Group’s Pets for the Environment website. She is the author of The Well, an unpublished work of young adult historical fiction, and is currently working on her second novel.[23] In December 2018 she won four games on the game show Jeopardy![24]

In July 2015, after Fowley's death, Fuchs revealed publicly that Fowley raped her on New Year’s Eve 1975 at a party after a Runaways performance at an Orange County club. Sixteen years old at the time, she was reportedly given Quaaludes by a man who she thought was a roadie and raped while she was incapacitated. Currie said she spoke up against Fowley's actions, then stormed out of the room when he refused to stop.[25][26]

Vicki BlueEdit

Vicki Blue is now known as Victory Tischler-Blue. 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 and Real Stories of the Highway Patrol—receiving an Emmy nomination along the way. She went on to form Sacred Dogs Entertainment Group—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.[citation needed] In 2005, Tischler-Blue directed Naked Under Leather, a documentary about fellow female rocker Suzi Quatro, which was selected for the Santa Cruz Film Festival in May 2004 but in the end was never released.[27] Focusing on music driven productions, she was tapped to executive produce a network special: The Bee Gees "Unbroken Fever"—The 30th Anniversary of Saturday Night Fever. Additionally, Tischler-Blue and Ford have teamed up together with Ford recording music for El Guitarrista, an animated series that Sacred Dogs Entertainment Group is producing.

Laurie McAllisterEdit

McAllister joined another of Fowley's all-female bands, The Orchids, who released a single LP in 1980. The original Orchids members were Laurie Bell on drums, Jan King on vocals, McAllister on bass, Sunbie Sinn on rhythm guitar, and Sandy Fury on rhythm guitar and vocals (later replaced by Che Zuro on lead guitar). Laurie retired from the music industry and worked as a veterinarian technician in Eugene, Oregon. McAllister died of complications from an asthma attack on August 25, 2011. She was 54 years old.[28]




Studio albumsEdit

Live albumEdit

Compilation albumsEdit

Year Album Label
1980 Flaming Schoolgirls
Compilation of previously unreleased outtakes
Cherry Red BRED9
1981 Little Lost Girls
Re-issue of ″And Now... The Runaways″ with a different cover photo and a different sequence of the songs under a different label.
Rhino Records RNDF 250
1982 The Best of the Runaways Mercury 826 279-1
I Love Playin' with Fire
Compilation of: And Now... The Runaways + 4 tracks from Flaming Schoolgirls
Cherry Red PLAKER1
1991 Born to be Bad
Compilation of early demo recordings
Marilyn USM1004
1992 Neon Angels Mercury 838 583-2
1997 The Runaways featuring Joan Jett and Lita Ford PolyGram 520 398-2
2005 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Runaways Universal B0004609-02
2010 Mercury Albums Anthology
Comprises The Runaways / Queens of Noise / Live in Japan / Waitin' for the Night
Mercury B0014074-02

Certified albumsEdit

Album Country Certificate Certified units/Sales
The Runaways Australia Gold 35,000
Live in Japan Japan Gold 100,000


Year Single : A-Side / B-Side Label Chart Positions
1976 "Cherry Bomb" / "Blackmail"
USA release
Mercury 73819 106 57 1
"Cherry Bomb" / "Is It Day or Night?"
France release
Mercury 6167 405
"Secrets" / "Rock and Roll"[29]
Japan release
Mercury SFL-2129
"American Nights" / "Secrets"[30]
Brazil release
Mercury - 6167 677
1977 "You Drive Me Wild" / "Rock and Roll"[31]
France release
Mercury 6837 453
"Queens of Noise" / "Born to Be Bad"
UK release
Mercury 6167 493
"Midnight Music" / "Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin"
Germany release
Mercury 6167 495
"Heartbeat" / "Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin"
USA & Australia release
Mercury 6167 496 110
"I Love Playin' with Fire" / "Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin"
Australia release
Mercury 6167 516
"Neon Angels on the Roads to Ruin" / "Queens of Noise"
Japan release
Mercury SLF-2153
"All Right You Guys" / "Blackmail"
Japan release
Mercury SFL-2195
"School Days" / "Wasted"
UK release
Mercury 6167 587 29[32]
"Little Sister" / "School Days"
Japan release
Mercury SFL-2215
"Waitin' For The Night" / "You're Too Possessive"
Germany release
Mercury – 6853 005
1978 "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" / "Right Now"
France release
Mercury 6837 524
1979 "Right Now" / "Black Leather"
UK release
Cherry Red CHERRY8
1994 "Born to Be Bad" / no B-side
US release
Marilyn USM 1004/10

Use in mediaEdit

  • "Cherry Bomb" appears on the soundtracks of Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, Dazed and Confused, RV, Cherrybomb, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Boys.
  • In Margaret Cho's stand-up DVD special I'm The One That I Want "Cherry Bomb" is played as she is making her entrance.
  • The television sitcom Step by Step named one of their episodes after the Runaways' song "School Days" (They changed the spelling to "School Daze")
  • "School Days" appears in the 1999 movie Detroit Rock City, and it was played in an episode of the teen drama 90210, the episode "What's Past Is Prologue".
  • In the teen drama The O.C., in the Season 3 episode "The Man of the Year", Marissa makes an entrance to "Cherry Bomb", while dressed in a provocative schoolgirl outfit, to Kaitlyn's boarding school. In another episode of The O.C., in the Season 1 episode "The Girlfriend", "Wait for Me" by the Runaways' was played.
  • In the 2007 movie Juno, the main character mentions her three favorite bands, one of which is the Runaways.
  • In the 2007 novel Derby Girl, by Shauna Cross, Oliver is said to have a poster of Joan Jett "in her Runaways days". The band is also referenced in a chapter title.
  • In the 2008 novel Lonely Werewolf Girl, by Martin Millar, the main character's favorite band is the Runaways.
  • The Runaways' song "You Drive Me Wild" was played in an episode of the comedy-drama Entourage, in the episode "Unlike a Virgin".
  • A cover version of "Cherry Bomb" is available for download in the music video game Rock Band. The song was re-recorded by Cherie Currie and Joan Jett in 2010 for inclusion in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.
  • "Cherry Bomb" appears as load-screen background music in the video game Lollipop Chainsaw.
  • Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways by Evelyn McDonald was released July 9, 2013.
  • "Dead End Justice" was used in Stranger Things season 2 episode 7 "The Lost Sister" as Jane (eleven), Kali (eight), and the rest of Kali's crew leave their headquarters.


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, the Donnas, and Vixen to enter the male-dominated arena of rock music.[33] They are named as influences by several male and female artists, including the Germs, Courtney Love, the Adolescents, Taylor Momsen, 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.


A biographical film about the band inspired by Currie's memoir was released in 2010. Jett was one of the executive producers for the film. Actresses Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning starred as Jett and Currie, respectively. Michael Shannon played Fowley. None of the band's former bass players were featured in the film; Fox did not want to be involved in any part of the film, and requested that her name be changed in the story. The fictional replacement is named Robin Robbins.[34] The film was written and directed by Floria Sigismondi,[35] and was released to limited theaters on March 19, 2010.[36][37]

The Runaways received generally positive reviews from critics.[38] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 70% rating based on 187 reviews, and an average rating of 6.19/10.[39]

New Runaways (1987)Edit

In the early 1980s, Gayle Welch, an ambitious 13-year-old girl from Kaitaia, New Zealand, wrote a song "Day of Age", and recorded it in Mandrell Recording Studios in Auckland, New Zealand. The resulting tape found its way to Fowley's desk. He played the Welch tape for colleague and Los Angeles deejay legend Rodney Bingenheimer who played the song on his show on radio KROQ and included it on his annual compilation of his most-liked music for the year. Also on that compilation was a song that featured Chicago-native guitarist Bill Millay.

It did not take long before Fowley, who still owned the Runaways trademark, was putting together a new Runaways band built around Welch. Missy Bonilla was recruited from the typing pool of CBS records, Denise Pryor came from Compton and Kathrine Dombrowski ("Kathy DiAmber") was also added. Welch was present only on tape and only on the first song on the CD, "I Want to Run With the Bad Boys". Millay played guitar, David Carr played keyboards and a drum machine rounded out the team. Glenn Holland,[40] also from New Zealand, a friend of both Bingenheimer and Fowley, facilitated. The album, Young and Fast[41] was released in 1987, and was a minor hit.


  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "The Runaways | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved June 15, 2010.
  2. ^ Huey, Steve. "Lita Ford | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  3. ^ Levine, Elana (2007). Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television. Duke University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-8223-3919-9.
  4. ^ Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 545. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0.
  5. ^ a b Edgeplay: A film about The Runaways, Sacred Dogs LLC, Los Angeles, 2005 (from interviews with Fowley, Currie)
  6. ^ "Episode 953 - Joan Jett". September 24, 2018. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Edgeplay: A film about The Runaways on IMDb
  8. ^ Hartmann, Graham 'Gruhamed' (November 5, 2013). "Lita Ford Plays Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction? - Runaways, Family + More". Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  9. ^ Sherman, Dale. 20th Century Rock And Roll : Women In Rock. Collector's Guide Publishing, inc, p53
  10. ^ "The Runaways Scrapbook Year 1978". Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  11. ^ Tony Sauro (April 24, 2008). "Sauro, Tony. "Q&A with Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna" ''Stockton Record'' April 24, 2008". Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  12. ^ Light of Day on IMDb
  13. ^ Joan Jett on IMDb
  14. ^ "Joan Jett & the Blackhearts: inducted in 2015 - The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  15. ^ [1] Archived May 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ a b "Runaways' Cherie Currie and Lita Ford Reconnect After Three Decades | SPIN | Music News". SPIN. February 16, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
  17. ^ "Shameless (3) - Beautiful Disaster". Discogs.
  18. ^ "Images for Shameless (3) - Beautiful Disaster". Discogs. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  19. ^ "Rock The Bayou". September 18, 2008. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  20. ^ "Movie news and in-depth coverage - Yahoo! Movies". Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  21. ^ "The Real Runaways: Still Rockin' 30 Years Later". Retrieved March 21, 2010.
  22. ^ "10 Thanksgiving Words With Bizarre Origins". Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  23. ^ "Jackie Fuchs". Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  24. ^ "The Runaways' Jackie Fuchs is killing it on Jeopardy!". Consequence of Sound.
  25. ^ "Joan Jett and Cherie Currie Respond to Jackie Fox's Rape Allegations". Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  26. ^ Cherkis, Jason. "Jackie Fox Of The Runaways Opens Up About Her Traumatic Rape". Huffington Post.
  27. ^ Naked Under Leather (2004) on IMDb
  28. ^ "Runaways bassist Laurie McAllister dies". Los Angeles Times. September 2, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  29. ^ "The Runaways - Secrets (Vinyl)". Discogs. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  30. ^ "The Runaways - American Nights (Vinyl)". Discogs. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  31. ^ "The Runaways - You Drive Me Wild / Rock-N-Roll (Vinyl)". Discogs. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  32. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Runaways - School Days". Retrieved April 19, 2014.
  33. ^ Chiu, David (June 18, 2013). "The Runaways: Rock and roll provocateurs". CBS News. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  34. ^ Belloni, Matt (December 21, 2010). "The secret legal battle behind 'The Runaways'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
  35. ^ Fleming, Michael (March 4, 2009). "Dakota Fanning fronts 'Runaways'; Actress also set to play vamp in 'New Moon'". Variety. Retrieved March 20, 2009.
  36. ^ The Runaways (2010) on IMDb
  37. ^ "Kristen Stewart: Jett-ing Through A Twilight Adventureland". April 1, 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2009.
  38. ^ Goldsmith, Melissa U. D.; Willson, Paige A.; Fonseca, Anthony J. (2016). The Encyclopedia of Musicians and Bands on Film. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 259. ISBN 978-1442269873.
  39. ^ "The Runaways". Rotten Tomatoes. 2010. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  40. ^ "Glenn Holland personal web site". Archived from the original on February 26, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
  41. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Young and Fast - The Runaways | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  • Includes information from the official website of the Runaways and the band members websites.

External linksEdit