The First Grrrls?:
Starting in 1975, the Runaways were a group of American teenage girls who started an all-girl rock band out of Los Angeles that featured a teenage Joan Jett. Emphasis on edginess helped get them grouped in with the emerging punk movement, and landed them on tours with the Ramones.
The group’s attitude and edge, as well as their express desire to be an all-girl band and be unapologetic about it, have helped label them the first Riot Grrrl band, almost 20 years before the movement existed.
Formation and Lineup:
The idea for the Runaways was a dream for Joan Jett and Sandy West – an all-girl rock band. Jett had taught herself guitar and West had been playing in heavy metal bands where she was the only girl. The two approached producer Kim Fowley with their ideas to start a band. Fowley was interested and agreed to help them find the other members of the band.
After auditioning their members and trying a series of bassists (including Micki Steele, later of the Bangles), the band solidified their best-known lineup:
Cherie Currie - Vocals
Lita Ford – Guitar
Joan Jett – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Jackie Fox – Bass
Sandy West – Drums
A Short, Fast History:
Officially, the Runaways were together from 1975-1979, but their core career was much shorter. The band signed with Mercury Records in 1976 and quite promptly released their self-titled debut, followed by a U.S. tour (partly with the Ramones).
In 1977, the Runways released their second album Queens of Noise, and went on a sold-out tour of Japan, where they were greeted like rock stars. While in Japan, they released a live album which immediately went gold. It was also in Japan that Fox left the band, to be replaced by Jett on bass, and then by 17-year-old Vicki Blue after the tour.
At this time, the band was dissolving. Currie was the next to leave, to be replaced by Jett on vocals. 1977 saw their fourth album, Waiting for the Night and a worldwide tour with the Ramones. In 1978, the band parted ways with Fowley and Mercury records amidst further rumors and allegations that management assigned to the band were involved in verbal and sometimes sexual abuse of its members. Under new management, the band released their last album, And Now… The Runaways, but broke up shortly after. After The Runaways
Many members of the Runaways went on to further success after the dissolution of the band, but arguably none more so than Joan Jett, who’s still enjoying a solo career that has included a main stage slot on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour, an acting career and her own label, Blackheart Records.
More of a hard rock performer, Lita Ford still performs and is best known for her songs "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Close My Eyes Forever" (a duet with Ozzy Osbourne).
Sandy West formed the Sandy West Band and toured up through the '90s. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and passed away in October 2006.
In 2005, one-time Runaways bassist Vicki Blue, started Sacred Dogs Entertainment, a motion picture production company. She released a documentary called Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways.
Edgeplay paints an intimate portrait of all the Runaways - Its the in-depth coverage that only a member of the band could have achieved, and the grittiness and lack of glitz of the film, combined with the sometimes bitter experiences related by the band members about their time in the Runaways, makes the film very stark and very real. (Compare Prices)