The Runaways

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This article is about the band. For other uses, see Runaway (disambiguation).
The Runaways
Runaways.jpg
Clockwise from top left: Lita Ford, Sandy West, Jackie Fox, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Hard rock,[1] punk rock,[2] heavy metal[1]
Years active 1975–1979
Labels Mercury, Rhino, Cherry Red, Raven
Associated acts Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Lita Ford, The Bangles, Cherie & Marie Currie, Sandy West Band, Currie-Blue Band, The Orchids
Website www.therunaways.com
Past members Joan Jett
Sandy West
Micki Steele
Lita Ford
Peggy Foster
Cherie Currie
Jackie Fox
Vicki Blue
Laurie McAllister

The Runaways were an American all-female rock band that recorded and performed in the second half of the 1970s. The band released four studio albums and one live set during its run. Among their best-known songs are "Cherry Bomb", "Hollywood", "Queens of Noise", the Velvet Underground’s "Rock n Roll". The Runaways, though never a major success in the United States, became a sensation overseas, e.g. in Japan, thanks to the hit single "Cherry Bomb".

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

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, who gave Jett's phone number to West. The two met on their own at West's home and later called Fowley to let him hear the outcome. Fowley then helped the girls find other members. Two decades later he said, "I didn't put The Runaways together, I had an idea, they had ideas, we all met, there was combustion and out of five different versions of that group came the five girls who were the ones that people liked."[3]

Starting as a power trio with singer/bassist Micki Steele, The Runaways began 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 just one month. Lead singer Cherie Currie was found and recruited in a local teen nightclub called the Sugar Shack, followed by Jackie Fox (who had originally auditioned for the lead guitar spot) on bass.[3]

Fame[edit]

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. They headlined shows with opening acts such as Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Van Halen[citation needed]. The documentary Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways, directed by former Runaway bassist Vicki Blue (aka Victory Tischler-Blue) revealed that each girl patterned herself after her idols: Currie patterned her look after David Bowie, Jett after Suzi Quatro and Keith Richards, Ford as a cross between Jeff Beck and Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, West after Queen drummer Roger Taylor, and Fox after Kiss bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons.[4]

The logo

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 (already fixtures on the West Coast punk scene) 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, their booking agent David Libert sent the group to Japan where they played a string of sold out shows. The Runaways were the number 4 imported music act in Japan at the time, behind only ABBA, Kiss and Led Zeppelin in terms of album sales and popularity[citation needed]. The girls were unprepared for the onslaught of fans that greeted them at the airport. The mass hysteria was later described by guitarist Jett as being "like Beatlemania".[5] 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.[6] Jett temporarily took over bass duties and when the group returned home they replaced Fox with Vicki Blue.

It was reported in 1977 that they were thrown out of a photo session by Disneyland because "one of the girls threatened one of our people with a homosexual act", cited a rep. "They were fondling one another or something."[7] He also went on to say that "they were doing weird things with french fries". However it seems while he didn't have a problem with the girls hugging, it was more "the gestures they were making... with their middle fingers"... Lita Ford hit back saying that Cherie wasn't hugging her, "she had her arms around my neck like she was strangling..." She also said they didn't have any french fries.[7]

Currie then left the group after this blow-up with Ford 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 and started a world tour with their friends The Ramones. Currie released a solo LP, Beauty's Only Skin Deep, produced by Kim Fowley, and began a separate U.S. tour, which included her identical twin sister Marie. Mercury Records chose not to release Currie's album Stateside, although it was available as a pricey import via France. In 1980, billed as Cherie and Marie Currie, the sisters released a poorly received rock album for Capitol, Messin' With The Boys, produced by Steve Lukather, who was engaged to and later married Marie Currie. Cherie had some success after The Runaways. "Since You Been Gone", a duet with Marie, off the album Messin' with the Boys charted number 95 on US charts.

Dissolution[edit]

Due to disagreements over money and the management of the band, The Runaways and Kim Fowley parted ways in 1977. The group quickly hired new management, Toby Mamis, who also worked for Blondie and Suzi Quatro. When the group split with Fowley, they also parted with their record label Mercury/Polygram, to which their deal was tied. In the Edgeplay documentary, members of the group (especially Fox and Currie) as well as the parents of Currie and West, have accused Fowley, and others assigned to look after the band, of broken promises as to schooling and other care, using divide and conquer tactics to keep control of the band, along with the verbal taunting of band members. 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 And Now... The Runaways.

Vicki Blue left the group due to medical problems and was briefly replaced by Laurie McAllister in November 1978. Laurie McAllister was referred to the band by her neighbor, Duane Hitchings, who played keyboards on And Now... The Runaways. Before joining The Runaways, Laurie played with Baby Roulette and the Rave Ons, who had one song released on a Kim Fowley compilation LP called Vampires From Outer Space. Laurie appeared onstage with The Runaways at their final shows in California during the last weeks of December 1978 and McAllister quit soon after in January 1979.

Disagreement between band members included the musical style; Joan Jett wanted the band to take a musical change, shifting towards punk rock/glam rock while Lita Ford and Sandy West wanted to continue playing hard rock/heavy metal music.[8] Neither would accept the other's point of view.[9] Finally, the band played their last concert[10] on New Year's Eve 1978 at the Cow Palace near San Francisco and officially broke up in April 1979.

Timeline[edit]

Post-breakup[edit]

The Runaways post 1979

Joan Jett in the 1980s
Joan Jett in the 1980s
Micki Steele in 2003
Micki Steele in 2003
Lita Ford in 1988
Lita Ford in 1988
Cherie Currie in 2010
Cherie Currie in 2010

Joan Jett[edit]

Jett achieved the most success after the Runaways. She went on to become a partner and work with producer and former Shondell Kenny Laguna. After being rejected by 23 record labels, they formed their own label, Blackheart Records, in 1980. In doing so, Jett became one of the first female recording artists to found her own record label.[11] The label continues to release albums by The Blackhearts, and also other new up and coming bands. Jett went on to have massive success with a cover of the Arrows' song "I Love Rock 'N' Roll", as well as other hits such as "Crimson and Clover", "Bad Reputation" and "I Hate Myself For Loving You". Jett also co-starred in the 1987 film Light of Day with Michael J. Fox,[12] and appeared in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show as Columbia.[13] Jett is also on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". She still continues playing to this day and is still touring all over the world. She recently released a new studio album called Unvarnished which charted number 47 on US charts.

Sandy West[edit]

West continued her association with John Alcock once the group disbanded. She and Ford attempted to record some music, but nothing materialized. She formed the Sandy West Band and toured California throughout the '80s and '90s, sometimes with Cherie Currie. She also did session work with John Entwistle of The Who and became a drum teacher. West was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005 and, after many treatments, succumbed to the disease in October 2006. A memorial tribute concert was later held in Los Angeles, featuring The Sandy West Band, Cherie Currie, The Bangles, The Donnas and the Appice Brothers, among several others.

Micki Steele[edit]

Steele joined the all-girl band The Bangles in the early 1980s and went on to success with songs like "Manic Monday", "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Eternal Flame".

Lita Ford[edit]

Ford returned as a solo artist to Polygram in the 1980s, where she released several albums before pairing with manager Sharon Osbourne. She also had success with songs like "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Close My Eyes Forever" (the second a duet with her manager's husband Ozzy Osbourne). She was married to Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P., and to former Nitro singer Jim Gillette, with whom she has two sons. After a long hiatus, Ford staged a comeback, performing at Rock The Bayou,[14] and other hard-rock festivals during the summer of 2008. She released Wicked Wonderland, her first studio album in 14 years, on 6 October 2009. During 2009, Lita toured as a special guest during many shows of the American Soldier tour for the progressive metal band, Queensrÿche where she performed two songs from Wicked Wonderland and reprised her duet "Close My Eyes Forever" with Queensrÿche lead singer, Geoff Tate. Ford is also currently making her rounds on TV, appearing on Vh1's Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp, That Metal Show, and recently filmed a guest spot on the Nickelodeon show Big Time Rush.

In early 2012, Ford announced that she would likely be touring, and possibly recording new songs, with Cherie Currie.[15]

Cherie Currie[edit]

Upon leaving The Runaways, Currie released a 1978 solo album entitled Beauty's Only Skin Deep and a 1980 duet album with her sister Marie, Messin' With the Boys, in which the duo was backed by most of Toto. Cherie and Marie Currie's song "Since You Been Gone" charted number 95 on U.S. charts. She also appeared in a number of films, most notably Foxes with Jodie Foster. Throughout the 1990s, Currie worked as a drug counselor for addicted teens and as a personal fitness trainer. She married actor Robert Hays; they have a son together, Jake Hays, but the couple divorced in 1997.

Currie still performs and records but her current passion is chainsaw carving. She has an art gallery in Chatsworth, California where her works are currently on display. She is also currently under contract with Jett's Blackheart Records label.

In 2012, she has been recording songs co-written with her son Jake, produced by Steve Lukather. Lukather suspended the project for summer 2012, to go on tour with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.[16] In the meantime, Currie announced plans to perform and possibly record new material with Lita Ford.[15]

In 2013 Cherie recorded two songs with Alexx Michael for the hard rock, glam metal, Munich, supergroup Shameless, which were released on the album "Beautiful Disaster" on the 02nd of October 2013.[17] [18]

Cherie Currie made a guest appearance as herself in the S4/E16 "Runaway" episode of the Syfy series Warehouse 13 and in the eighth season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians as herself.

Jackie Fox[edit]

Fox returned to using her birth name of Fuchs and graduated from UCLA summa cum laude, with a B.A. in Linguistics and Italian, and received her J.D. from Harvard becoming a lawyer, focusing on entertainment.[19] She has lived abroad and is an amateur photographer.[citation needed] Fox has photographed many other famous actors such as James McAvoy and George Clooney.[citation needed] She co-wrote "Delilah's Scissors" with Tischler-Blue and executive-produced and appeared in Edgeplay, Tischler-Blue's 2005 documentary about the Runaways.[4] She also writes an L.A. cat care column for Examiner.com[20] and is an occasional contributor to Listverse.com.[21] She has a popular website and blog at www.myspace.com/jackiefuchs and was the first guest blogger for the Environmental Working Group’s Pets for the Environment website. She is the author of The Well, an unpublished work of young adult historical fiction, and is currently working on her second novel.[22] She appeared as a contestant on the ABC television game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" which aired September 6, 2013.[citation needed]

Vicki Blue[edit]

Vicki Blue, now known as Victory Tischler-Blue. After leaving The Runaways, she shifted her focus to film and television production eventually becoming a producer/director for several reality- and magazine-based television shows, including Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and Real Stories of the Highway Patrol—receiving an Emmy nomination along the way. She went on to form Sacred Dogs Entertainment Group—a motion picture production company and released a documentary on The Runaways called Edgeplay: A film about The Runaways. "Edgeplay" went on to win numerous awards and became the highest rated rock documentary film on the Showtime Networks.[citation needed] In 2005, Tischler-Blue directed Naked Under Leather, a documentary about fellow female rocker, Suzi Quatro, which was selected for the Santa Cruz Film Festival in May 2004 and released on December 25, 2005.[23] Focusing on music driven productions, she is currently executive producing a network special: The Bee Gees "Unbroken Fever"—The 30th Anniversary of Saturday Night Fever (2007). Additionally, Tischler-Blue and Ford have teamed up together with Ford recording music for El Guitarrista, an animated series that Sacred Dogs Entertainment Group is producing.

Laurie McAllister[edit]

McAllister joined another of Fowley's all-girl bands, The Orchids, who released a single LP in 1980. The original Orchids members were Laurie Bell on drums, Jan King on vocals, McAllister on bass, Sunbie Sinn rhythm guitar, and Sandy Fury guitar and vocals (later replaced by Che Zuro lead guitar). Laurie retired from the music industry and worked as a veterinarian technician in Eugene, Oregon. McAllister died of complications from an asthma attack on August 25, 2011.[24]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Label Chart
1976 The Runaways Mercury SRM-1-1090 #194 (USA)[25]
1977 Queens of Noise Mercury SRM 1-1126 #172 (USA)[25]
#28 (Sweden)[26]
Waitin' for the Night Mercury SRM-1-3705 #34 (Sweden)[27]
1978 And Now... The Runaways
Released in the US as Little Lost Girls in 1981
Cherry Red ARED3

Live album[edit]

Year Album Label Chart Certifications (sales threshold)
1977 Live in Japan Mercury SRM-1-3740 #33 (Sweden)[28] Gold in Japan

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Label
1980 Flaming Schoolgirls
Compilation of previously unreleased outtakes
Cherry Red BRED9
1982 The Best Of The Runaways Mercury 826 279-1
I Love Playin' with Fire
Compilation of: And Now... The Runaways + 4 tracks from Flaming Schoolgirls
Cherry Red PLAKER1
1991 Born to be Bad
Compilation of early demo recordings
Marilyn USM1004
1992 Neon Angels Mercury 838 583-2
1997 The Runaways featuring Joan Jett and Lita Ford PolyGram 520 398-2
2005 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Runaways Universal B0004609-02
2010 Mercury Albums Anthology
Comprises The Runaways / Queens of Noise / Live in Japan / Waitin' for the Night
Mercury B0014074-02

Singles[edit]

Year Single : A-Side / B-Side Label USA
Chart
UK
Chart
Japan
Chart
Belgium
Chart
Scandinavia
Chart
1976 "Cherry Bomb" / "Blackmail"
USA release
Mercury 73819

#106

#2

#1

#1 [29]

"Cherry Bomb" / "Is It Day Or Night?"
France release
Mercury 6167 405

"Secrets" / "Rock And Roll" [30]
Japan release
Mercury SFL-2129

1977 "You Drive Me Wild" / "Rock And Roll" [31]
France release
Mercury 6837 453
"Queens of Noise" / "Born To Be Bad"
UK release
Mercury 6167 493

"Midnight Music" / "Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin"
Germany release
Mercury 6167 495

"Heartbeat" / "Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin"
USA & Australia release
Mercury 6167 496

#110

"I Love Playin' With Fire" / "Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin"
Australia release
Mercury 6167 516

1977

"Neon Angels on the Roads to Ruin" / "Queens of Noise"
Japan release
Mercury SLF-2153

1977

"All Right You Guys" / "Blackmail"
Japan release
Mercury SFL-2195

1977

"School Days" / "Wasted"
UK release
Mercury 6167 587

#29 [32]

1977

"Little Sister" / "School Days"
Japan release
Mercury SFL-2215

1978

"Mama Weer All Crazee Now" / "Right Now"
France release
Mercury 6837 524

1979

"Right Now" / "Black Leather"
UK release
Cherry Red CHERRY8

1994

"Born to be Bad" / no B side
US release
Marilyn USM 1004/10

Use in media[edit]

  • "Cherry Bomb" appeared on the soundtracks of Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, RV, Dazed and Confused, Guardians of the Galaxy (film), and Cherrybomb (film).
  • "School Days" appeared in the 1999 film Detroit Rock City.
  • In the teen drama The O.C., in the Season 3 episode "The Man of the Year," Marissa makes an entrance to "Cherry Bomb," while dressed in a provocative schoolgirl outfit, to Kaitlyn's boarding school.
  • In the 2007 movie Juno, the main character mentions her three favorite bands, one of which is The Runaways.
  • In the 2007 novel, Derby Girl, by Shauna Cross, Oliver is said to have a poster of Joan Jett "in her Runaways days". The band is also referenced in a chapter title.
  • In the 2008 novel Lonely Werewolf Girl, by Martin Millar, the main character's favorite band is The Runaways.
  • A cover version of "Cherry Bomb" is available for download in music videogame Rock Band. The song was re-recorded by Cherie Currie and Joan Jett in 2010 for inclusion in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.
  • "Cherry Bomb" also appeared as load-screen background music in the video game Lollipop Chainsaw featuring a zombie hunting cheerleader.

Influence[edit]

The Runaways' success paved the way for many successful female artists and female bands over the past 30 years, including The Go-Go's, Sahara Hotnights, L7, The Donnas, Vixen, and new French rock and roll girl band Plastiscines to enter the male-dominated arena of rock music. They are named as influences by several male and female artists, including Running Thoughts, The Germs, Courtney Love, The Adolescents, Taylor Momsen, White Flag,[33] and Rhino Bucket who acknowledged The Runaways' influence on their music during their performance at the December 2006 tribute concert honoring Sandy West.

Film[edit]

Main article: The Runaways (film)

A biographical film about the band inspired by Currie's memoir was released in 2010. Jett was one of the executive producers for the film. Actresses Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning starred as Jett and Currie, respectively. Michael Shannon played Kim Fowley. None of the band's former bass players were featured in the film; Fox did not want to be involved in any part of the film, and requested that her name be changed in the story. The fictional replacement is named Robin Robbins.[34] The film was written and directed by Floria Sigismondi,[35] and was released to limited theaters on March 19, 2010.[36] [37]

The film reviews were generally positive, and The Runaways currently holds a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

New Runaways (1987)[edit]

In the early eighties, Gayle Welch, an ambitious 13-year-old girl from Kaitaia, New Zealand, wrote a song "Day of Age", and recorded it in Mandrell Recording Studios in Auckland, New Zealand. The resulting tape found its way to Fowley's desk. He played the Welch tape for colleague and Los Angeles deejay legend Rodney Bingenheimer who played the song on his show on radio KROQ and included it on his annual compilation of his most-liked music for the year. Also on that compilation was a song that featured Chicago-native guitarist Bill Millay.

It did not take long before Fowley, who still owned the Runaways trade mark, was putting together a new Runaways band built around Welch. Missy Bonilla was recruited from the typing pool of CBS records, Denise Pryor came from Compton and Kathrine Dombrowski ("Kathy DiAmber") was also added. Gayle was present only on tape and only on the first song on the CD, "I Want to Run With the Bad Boys". Millay played guitar, David Carr was on keyboard and a drum machine rounded out the team. Glenn Holland,[38] also from New Zealand, a friend of both Bingenheimer and Fowley, facilitated. The album, Young and Fast[39] was released in 1987, and was a minor hit. Welch and Millay subsequently married.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Runaways > Overview" at AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
  2. ^ "The Runaways - A Punk Rock History". Punk77.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  3. ^ a b Edgeplay: A film about The Runaways, Sacred Dogs LLC, Los Angeles, 2005 (from interviews with Fowley, Currie)
  4. ^ a b Edgeplay: A film about The Runaways at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ Edgeplay: A film about The Runaways at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ "''All Right You Guys'' (VIDEO)". Youtube.com. 2006-07-30. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  7. ^ a b Rolling Stone, July 14, 1977 - Random Notes section, page 21.
  8. ^ http://loudwire.com/lita-ford-wikipedia-fact-or-fiction-runaways-family-more/
  9. ^ Sherman, Dale. 20th Century Rock And Roll : Women In Rock. Collector's Guide Publishing, inc, p53
  10. ^ "The Runaways Scrapbook Year 1978". Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  11. ^ Tony Sauro (2008-04-24). "Sauro, Tony. "Q&A with Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna" ''Stockton Record'' April 24, 2008". Recordnet.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  12. ^ Light of Day at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Joan Jett at the Internet Movie Database
  14. ^ "Rock The Bayou". Allaccessmagazine.com. 2008-09-18. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  15. ^ a b "Runaways' Cherie Currie and Lita Ford Reconnect After Three Decades | SPIN | Music News". SPIN. 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ Discogs - Beautiful Disaster 2013 Germany
  18. ^ Cherie Currie appears in courtesy of Blackheart Records Group Inc.
  19. ^ "Movie news and in-depth coverage - Yahoo! Movies". Movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  20. ^ "The Real Runaways: Still Rockin' 30 Years Later". people.com/. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  21. ^ "10 Thanksgiving Words With Bizarre Origins". Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  22. ^ "Jackie Fuchs". huffingtonpost.com/. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  23. ^ Naked Under Leather (2004) at the Internet Movie Database
  24. ^ "Runaways bassist Laurie McAllister dies". Los Angeles Times. September 2, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b "The Runaways: Awards – Billboard Albums". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 9, 2012. 
  26. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Runaways - Queens Of Noise". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  27. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Runaways - Waitin' For The Night". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  28. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Runaways - Live In Japan". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  29. ^ "Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - GROAMY - Radio Promo". YouTube. 2014-01-21. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  30. ^ Discogs - Secrets 1976 Japan
  31. ^ Discogs - You Drive Me Wild / Rock-N-Roll 1977 France
  32. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Runaways - School Days". Swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  33. ^ White Flag's Official site, and their Myspace web sites
  34. ^ Belloni, Matt (December 21, 2010). "The secret legal battle behind 'The Runaways'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 28, 2011. 
  35. ^ Fleming, Michael (March 4, 2009). "Dakota Fanning fronts 'Runaways'; Actress also set to play vamp in 'New Moon'". Variety. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  36. ^ The Runaways (2010) at the Internet Movie Database
  37. ^ "Kristen Stewart: Jett-ing Through A Twilight Adventureland". SuicideGirls.com. 1 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  38. ^ "Glenn Holland personal web site". Glenn-holland.net. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  39. ^ Young and Fast at AllMusic
  • Includes information from the official website of The Runaways and the band members websites.

External links[edit]