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The Runaways Biography

Home > Music > R > Runaways, The > Biography

Birth Place: United States
Years Active: 1975–1979
Genres: Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Punk Rock

The Runaways were an American all-girl rock band that recorded and performed in the second half of the 1970s. The Runaways were formed in late 1975 by drummer Sandy West and rhythm guitarist Joan Jett after they had both introduced themselves to producer Kim Fowley. Starting as a power trio with singer/bassist Micki Steele, The Runaways began in the party and club circuit around Los Angeles. They soon added lead guitarist Lita Ford who had originally auditioned for the bass spot. Steele was fired from the group, later resurfacing in The Bangles. Local bassist Peggy Foster took over on bass but left after a month. Lead singer Cherie Currie was found and recruited in a local teen nightclub called the Sugar Shack, followed by Jackie Fox on bass.

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 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 formed alliances with mostly-male punk bands such as Blondie, 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 the group arrived in Japan for a string of sold out shows. The Runaways were the #4 imported music act in Japan at the time, behind only ABBA, Kiss and Led Zeppelin in terms of album sales and popularity. While in Japan, The Runaways had their own TV special, did numerous television appearances and released the live album “Live in Japan” that went gold. Also in Japan, Fox left the band shortly before the group was scheduled to appear at the 1977 Tokyo Music Festival. Jett temporarily took over bass duties and when the group returned home they replaced Fox with Vicki Blue.

Currie then left the group after a blow-up with Ford during a photo session 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” in 1977 and started a world tour with their friends The Ramones.

Due to disagreements over money and the management of the band, The Runaways and Kim Fowley parted ways in 1977. When the group split with Fowley, they also parted with their record label Mercury/Polygram, to which their deal was tied. 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, 1978’s “And Now... The Runaways.”

Vicki Blue left the group due to medical problems and was briefly replaced by Laurie McAllister in November 1978. Disagreement between group members regarding the direction the band’s sound would take resulted in the dissolution of The Runaways. The band played their last concert on New Year's Eve 1978 at the Cow Palace near San Francisco and officially broke up in April 1979.