Cherry Bombs and Neon Angels: The Runaways

This was even before the next heir to punk was introduced when Debbie Harry and Blondie splashed onto the east coast scene at the famous CBGB club. The Runaways were all teenagers under the thumb of their eccentric and controversial manager Kim Fowley. When Currie posed for a Japanese magazine in skimpy black sets and lingerie in the backyard of her home, the band felt betrayed and defeated that all their hard work would merely be labeled as jail bait sex symbols.

No it wasn’t all glam rock; many times you can see tomboy Jett running around in Chuck Taylors, but still in full leather in hot southern California. The girls are often in cutoff denim, graphic tees and all with luxurious manes of hair. The opening scene has Cherie and her sister in their matching 70s post-modern color palettes: brown knee-high socks and wooden platform wedges, struggling to cross the street like wobbly deer trying to hide the fact that Cherie got her period.


Before the group went to Tokyo, Fowley scheduled a press shoot for Cherie Currie and only her. Unsure as to why, she didn’t think anything of it and went along with the shoot. Though it wasn’t a story about the music as it was a sultry editorial. Maybe she was naive to the marionette like tendencies that Fowley often led by – or it was because she was the iconic Bowie/Bardot fusion front woman, which made her a huge sensation for Japanese audiences. Whatever transpired, when the glossy pages reached the bandmates, the wound went deep and they eventually disbanded in the late 70s.

Cherie Currie battled addictions to cocaine, quaaludes and alcohol during the height of their fame. She eventually quit after the riff between bandmates and went to rehab. The rest of the group disbanded soon after and would go on to record collaborations with members of The Bangles, The Donnas and many more. Lita Ford turned her lead guitarist skills to heavy metal and dominated. Cherie Currie went on to record one album with her twin sister Marie. She continues to advocate for sobriety and wrote the novel Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway. After being turned down 23 times by record companies, Jett and her manager Kenny Laguna created Blackheart Records to record their own material.

She puts out an ad for three men who can play – to eventually form Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The rest is history. One of my favorite and final looks of Jett in The Runaways is when she gives a radio interview for the album: “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” in her black grown out mullet and magenta boyfriend blazer. A colorfully classic 80s punk look. An ushering in of American punk and females in rock ‘n roll would forever be changed by her influence.

Kristen Stewart and Joan Jett side by side scene comparison

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