The Runaways

With the Runaways suddenly in the news (feature film and LA Weekly cover story). I'll share my own Runaways moment. Some school friends hired the Runaways, the all girl teenage rock band, to play at a party. This was 1977. Disco was big, punk hotting up in Los Angeles.  So Guitarist, Joan Jett, drummer, Sandy West and I are hanging out in the den. Not a den of iniquity, but a den of a house in the "Upper Rancho" of Arcadia. Boring, parochial Arcadia. Already they've suffered the most pathologically rapacious bloodsuckers Hollywood has to offer. However,  I am only pathologically shy. It's amazing I'm even at the party, let alone attempting to chat with them. We sip beers  -- or maybe just soft drinks.

I know that doesn't enhance their legend - or mine, but that's how it was that night.

"How did you get involved with the band?" I ask Sandy, -- summoning my latent journalistic instincts. She saw an ad in a paper, is what I think she told me. The girls are friendly and then it's time to hit the stage. This was the "classic" Runaways lineup: Singer Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, lead guitar, Jackie Fox, bass, along with Joan and Sandy.
The "stage" was  the back yard. As I recall they played all the songs in their set twice. Miss Jett introduced one number by proclaiming; "A lot of guys think that chicks can't rock -- well I wanna tell you that's a bunch of bullshit!" or words to that affect.

"Hello world I'm your Wild Girl -- ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch CHERRY BOMB! Who can resist lyrics like that, when sung by a teenager?  They are middle aged now -- and so am I, but that's the way it is.

That night they were serious and played pretty well, if memory serves. I took photos, that alas, are lost, probably forever. Apparently this was this the last private party they were playing because they had gotten too big for such things.... Then it all fell apart very quickly.

I didn't appreciate at the time how tough it was for them. They were so young and really-- the first all female group of their kind (leered at, and patronized), at the mercy of a pathological, rapacious and bloodsucking music industry.

And Sandy met a tragic end. Though that night she seemed happy -- a chick playing drums in a rock band, what could be more cool?

I'm sure I evaporated from her consciousness the moment I left the room. But I remember. I'm the one who remembers.

Sandy West In Memoriam.

P.S. I'll post my photos if I can find the damn things.


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