Do you remember the Runaways From Philadelphia?
I’m sure many folks do, even as far as England, Western Europe and especially in Japan. But they are almost overlooked here in the states, an often-forgotten band from Philadelphia’s history. They were always an all-female rock band, the Runaways gave a start to the famous Joan Jett. The Runaways were initially managed by Kim Fowley after he helped put the band together but they broke ties with Fowley in 1977. They were successful around the world, becoming the most popular in Japan, while only maintaining mild fame here in the United States.
While the Runaways time together was fairly short lived, forming in 1975 and playing until 1979 – their impact was great. Not only did the Runaway’s start Joan Jetts musical career, but they were wildly inspirational to hoards of young girl rockers dreaming of a place in the band. They went a long way in putting female musicians on the map and they showed the world that the spirit of rock and roll was for much more than just their male counterparts.
Their sound was similar to many of the emerging punk music that was popular during that period and being influenced by David Bowie. They were a perfect example of the symbiotic nature of rock. They took aspects of other’s styles and then blended it with their own to create a unique and distinguished sound, which in turn, influenced many more young musicians to come.
Meet The Members of the Runaway’s and Discover What Happened To Them.
Joan Jett was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though she didn’t grow up there, she came back long enough for the Runaways to make their start there. Joan got involved with music and performing early on, watching movies and going to shows. She knew from a young age she wanted to perform and inspire others.
At 13 years old, Joan began practicing guitar, her parents bought Joan her first guitar one Christmas. Joan tried learning guitar the traditional way, by taking lessons, but quickly learned it wasn’t her style, this was made clear when her teacher kept trying to teach her folk songs, when all Joan wanted to do was to play Rock music. Joan continued playing, but she continued in the only way that felt right – by teaching herself. It was this attitude that secured Joan’s and the Runaway’s success in rock music.
Joan became the rhythm guitar player for the Runaways, and later was to sing lead vocals as well. Throughout the entire band’s career, Joan maintained her dedication to the genre of punk rock, her one true love. It was one of the factors of their split in 1979. She later went on to have a very successful solo career and still performs today.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Cherie Curie had been a David Bowie fan from very early in her life. It was her admiration for Bowie that sparked inspiration for much of the music the Runaways produced. Her tributes to David Bowie, through her hairstyles and outfits, are a true example of the way the spirit of rock spreads from generation to generation, keeping it alive even today.
Cherie auditioned for the Runaways by singing the song “Cherrie Bomb,” which Joan and Kim wrote on the spot from her. It was a moment of true genius, as this song became their biggest hit and still sings to the hearts of rockers everywhere.
In 1977, Cherie left the Runaways to begin her own solo career, no being there for the breakup in 1979. Later in life, she began acting, having a prolific career in both acting and music. She even opened her own art gallery later in life.
Lita Ford was originally from London in England but later moved to California and then on to Philadelphia. She began playing and performing rock early in life, when she was just a teenager. Her ability to shred away on the guitar with passion blew Joan and Sandy away at her audition. They knew from the start that Lita was going to be their lead guitarist for the entirety of the Runaway’s time together.
Lita now plays music for videos games, touching the souls and minds of the young generation. She’s a perfect example of how the spirit of rock has the power to span generations and even mediums! Lita now has her own website
Sandy West, along with Joan, had this vision for the Runaways and was there to make it happen, from the beginning to the end. She has a wide range of influences, from the Monkees to Led Zeppelin to Aerosmith. Each one played a part in making her the musician she was, and you can hear them distinctly in her drumming styles.
Instead of allowing the fact that rock was male-dominated discourage her, she used it as fuel to hone her skills and express herself even more. This is the kind of passion that carries through in her music and makes the Runaways so one-of-a-kind.
Sandy had a huge influence on the band, from helping to organize and find members with Joan, to writing some of the most popular and influential tracks, like “Born to Be Bad” and “California Paradise.”
In 2006,Sadly after a battle with lung cancer, Sandy passed away.
Jackie Fox was the first and most well known bassist for the Runaways. Jackie originally auditioned to be the guitar player, however when they didn’t find her to be a good fit, they asked her to audition for bass. It was then that Jackie found her place within the Runaways and within rock.
Jackie left the Runaways in 1977 said to be fed up with continual bad feelings between band members. to pursue other jobs in the entertainment industry. After a while, however, she returned to what she really wanted to do – attend school. She graduated from UCLA and then attended Harvard Law School.
She’s played reunion concerts with her fellow bandmates and has had a successful career as a photographer. Her passion for life and the things she loves to do have made her a unique influence on the entire history of rock. Jackie is also known as Jackie Fuchs and writes for The Huffington Post Jackie has also written some of her posts on her blog entitled The Runaways Remembered which provides and insight to the internal strife that was going on.
The band has had many bass players throughout the years until they disbanded in 1979. See below for the names and dates of the members, it would be unfair to leave anyone out.
- Joan Jett – rhythm and lead guitar, lead and backing vocals (1975–1979); bass guitar (1977)
- Sandy West – drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals (1975–1979)
- Micki Steele – lead vocals (1975); bass guitar (1975)
- Lita Ford – bass guitar (1975, 1978); lead and rhythm guitar, backing and lead vocals (1975–1979)
- Peggy Foster – bass guitar (1975)
- Cherie Currie – lead and backing vocals, keyboards, tambourine, snare drum (1975–1977)
- Jackie Fox – lead and rhythm guitar (1975); bass guitar, backing and lead vocals (1975–1977)
- Vicki Blue – bass guitar, backing vocals (1977–1978)
- Laurie McAllister – bass guitar (1978–1979)
Just Check Out This Trailer For The Runaways
It doesn’t matter what the final reason is, there are many pressures for any young group of people who are flung together, working and travelling for long hours, money, music, and other disputes always take their toll, tempers fray and strong wills clash so it was inevitable that the band members come and go, just like many bands before them, so as a result of these pressures the band members decided to call it a day citing differences of opinion over the direction their music and style should follow as the reason. The band ultimately decided to go their separate ways, but their legacy remains as strong as ever.
They have inspired so many young girls to pick up guitars. They showed the world that the spirit of rock is accessible to everyone. It doesn’t have a gender. And nothing is more apt when talking about the true spirit of rock.