The Runaways were formed by guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West after both had given their contact information to producer Kim Fowley. After jamming at West's house, the pair called Fowley to find more members and singer Cherie Currie, bassist Jackie Fox, and guitarist Lita Ford joined the band soon after.
In 1977, The Runaways arrived in Japan for a massive tour. At the time, the band was the fourth-most-popular act in the country, only behind KISS, Led Zeppelin, and ABBA. During the tour, The Runaways played sold-out shows, hosted their own TV special, did numerous TV performances, and recorded a live album called Live in Japan that eventually went gold. Singer/guitarist Joan Jett described the experience as being "like Beatlemania."
The story may have been exaggerated for effect, but according to various reports, The Runaways were kicked out of Disneyland during a photo shoot in 1977. Witnesses claim they saw band members engaging in and threatening them with homosexual acts. Others say the band members were flashing middle fingers and displaying rude and inappropriate behavior.
After The Runaways broke up in 1979, Joan Jett went on to become one of the most successful women in rock 'n' roll history, cranking out staples like "I Love Rock And Roll
" and "Crimson And Clover
." Rolling Stone
even named her one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
Bassist Micki Steele was only in The Runaways for a short time but has enjoyed massive commercial success since her departure from the band. She joined The Bangles in the early '80s and played on the hits "Manic Monday
" and "Walk Like An Egyptian
In 2010, Sony Pictures released a film about The Runaways, titled simply The Runaways. Twilight star Kristen Stewart played Joan Jett in the movie while Cherie Currie was portrayed by acclaimed actress Dakota Fanning. Although the film received generally favorable reviews by critics, it was a huge commercial failure. The film only made back around half of its $10 million budget and it was pulled from theaters after only seven weeks of release.
In the Songfacts interview with Lita Ford
, she explained how Kim Fowley would help them write songs: "Kim would come up with an idea. He would point at Joan and he would say, 'Joan! Joan play this.' [mimics the sound of a guitar riff] Joan would pick up her guitar and she would try and mimic whatever he was humming at the time. Kim was a musical genius."
According to Joan Jett, they got some bad advice from Robert Plant, who told them it was fun to collect (steal) hotel keys in England. The keys were big and ornate, and somewhat valuable, so when the band tried to enter France, they were detained by Customs. They had to cancel their show.
Former Runaways bassist Jackie Fox returned to the spotlight in December 2018 when she won four straight shows of Jeopardy!
Now known as Jackie Fuchs, the former rock musician amassed a total of $87,089 in earnings during her five-day run on the TV quiz show.