Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jackie has written more about the Runaways since these stories were originally posted. Read that here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

March 23, 2000 -- Chopper Magazine and the Case of the Hells Angels

In 1976, our manager had the great idea to have Chopper Magazine do an interview and photo spread with us and put us on the cover. The photo shoot took place on a new freeway under construction in Los Angeles, on a blistering hot day. The photographer wanted the two blondes in the band on the bikes, so Sandy and Cherie sat on the choppers and also ended up alone on the cover. The picture below appeared with a number of others on the inside of the magazine along with our interview.

Cut to several months later in Connecticut, where my uncle (my father's brother) is working as a civil litigator. He has been referred a case representing couple of Hell's Angels, who have come to my uncle's posh offices in Bridgeport to meet their new lawyer. Needless to say, the sight of a couple of large, tough-looking, leather-clad bikers waiting in the lobby of a respectable East coast law firm must have been something. The bikers must have looked really tough because my uncle, no shrinking violet himself, was REALLY nervous about how they were going to react to all the lawyers in suits. To break the ice, my uncle mentioned that his niece had just appeared in Chopper Magazine. It turned out that bikers had read the issue and were impressed that their new lawyer was related to one of the teenagers that had just appeared in the cover story of their favorite magazine.

My uncle got the case, the bikers got their day in court, and The Runaways reached a whole new set of fans we might not otherwise have had.

March 30, 2000 -- Five Years and Wahhhhhhh! Cherieeeeeeeeee!

Our manager, owner, trainer, circus geek, whatever, Kim Fowley, decided that the scam (i.e., The Runaways) was over when the last one of us turned 21. That was me, as I was born on December 20, 1959, three weeks after Cherie, the next youngest. I would turn 16 on December 20th of 1975, the year I joined. So we had 5 years until Kim's scam was over, a fact the rest of the band would never let me forget. Everytime they thought I was acting up in any way, they would gang together and break out into a rousing chorus of the David Bowie song "Five Years" to remind me that we only had a little time and I should, therefore, shut up.

But that was nothing compared to what we did to Cherie.

In Dead End Justice, when Cherie has fallen down and Joan is trying to coax her on, there is a moment of silence in the singing and Joan sings to Cherie, "But Cherieeeee you must try hardeerrrrr." So when we would do the song, when that point came, we would all stop playing our instruments, lean into our microphones and shout "But Cheriieeeee you must try harderrrrrrrrrr." After awhile it grew to just "Wahhhhhhhh Cherieeeeeeee" or even just "Cherie-eeeeee" and we used it all the time. I don't remember giving any similar kind of grief to the rest of the band when they were misbehaving, as I think we are all too afraid of Lita's temper to try and we knew Sandy could kick our asses. So we left them alone. Ah, but what about Joan? Joan never misbehaved on her own -- while the rest of us were friends with one of the other girls one week and not speaking to that person the next, Joan pretty much got along with everyone all the time. So the babies of the band, Cherie and me, took most of the flak.

April 7, 2000 -- Chicago to Austin the Hard way

We had played two shows at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago and were scheduled to fly to Austin, Texas the next day for a show at the Armadillo the following night. Lita and Cherie decided they were tired of flying, so they left that night right after the last Chicago show and drove with the crew to Austin.

The next day, Sandy and Joan and I were ready to leave for the airport, but our manager, who talked on the phone so much the band nicknamed him "Tyrone Telephone," was tied up on a call and we were running even later than usual. To top it off, it had started snowing.

We got the taxi driver to speed in the snow and managed to make the flight, but didn't have time to check any luggage. So the four of us took all of our things onto the plane, along with a few items Cherie and Lita had left behind in their haste to get on the road in time. The plane had a 15-minute stop-over in Dallas before heading on to Austin, so when we landed, Sandy, Joan and our manager got off to buy snacks and magazines, and I stayed on the plane to watch our stuff.

15 minutes passed and Sandy, Joan and our manager hadn't gotten back on the plane. 20 minutes... 25. The flight crew closed the doors and got into their jump seats preparing for take-off. All of a sudden, one of the stewardesses jumped up and opened the door, and Joan came racing in with all of the crew glaring at her. We took off and 20 minutes later, Joan and I arrived in Austin with 5 people's luggage and no one to meet us. We were 16 years old.

Joan pretended to have a limp so we could get her a wheelchair. I don't think she fooled anybody, but they gave us the wheelchair anyway and we piled all of our things onto it. Fortunately, I remembered the name of the hotel we were staying at in Austin, and we called them and got someone to come pick us up. When we got to the hotel, however, we couldn't check in because neither of us had a credit card. So we left the baggage at the front desk and wandered around the hotel grounds.

Pretty soon, we stumbled onto a building in which the hotel staff was setting up a party for later that night. We talked the bartenders into giving us drinks, and by the time our manager and Sandy showed up, Joan and I were plastered. I have a vague memory of sitting at a very long table which was covered by a long, red table cloth, and thinking it would be pretty cool to do the old 'pull the tablecloth out from under the drinks' trick -- with my teeth. It didn't work and I got kicked out of the party.

But at least I got myself to Texas.

April 14, 2000 -- These Bitches Suck

Well, I thought for this week's story I would share some of my favorite bad reviews of our albums and live performances along with some favorite excerpts from fan mail. I can laugh at the reviews now, but at the age of 16 these really hurt.

Warning!The following excerpts contain language that some people may find offensive (especially former Runaways!):

Creem Magazine, April 1977 -- These bitches suck. That's all there is to it. Despite what the West Coast Blow Job Coordinator might say, they're not any good, they're not so bad they're good, they're not anything.

Cincinatti Enquirer, August 16, 1976 -- Their hard-as-nails image fosters the impression that the only thing their lips have not embraced is the front bumper of a Mack truck.

New Musical Express, August 14, 1976 and Creem, November 1976 -- Like Barbie dolls, this band was composed of girls trying to act like boys. Actually, they were girls trying to act like David Bowie who tried to act alternatively like a girl or an android... so where is that at? Girl or boy, a poseur is a poseur.

Sounds, October 16, 1976 -- I'm sorry girls, but your ignorance really pissed me off, too, but thanks for three exciting shows and for helping me to understand why people like the Stones and the Who will always be so real despite the upstarts and fads the industry spawns for our delight.

Creem Magazine, February 1977 -- Both the emotion and the execution are abysmal... but don't let the cliches fool you. What they lack in subtlety... they make up for in continuity.

Fan Letters Rule! (or not)...

Hello Toots, so honoured to make y'r aquaintance again, you frosted orgasm!!!

When I went to see you at Pekin, Il. I had no idea that I was to see a female Led Zepplin in the making... Jackie I honestly swear that out of all the Runaways, you are definetly the most lady-like on stage.

I've been thinking for hours, what I should write to the sexiest bass guartarest [sic] that ever set foot on the earth. So, here it is: ...I can dig a Beautiful chick like you.

I read a review in a rock magazine about the "Runaways" & all I can say is that it wasn't a review it was a vendetta. They guy who wrote it must be perverted.

But my favorite all-time fan letter is:

To give you a quick run-down about myself, I'm in Kansas State Industrial Reformatory, which is a prison. I enjoy weight lifting and am on the weight lifting team here. I enjoy drugs and working with animals.

And, finally, a letter I wrote home to my family on March 10, 1976 from Cleveland:

I'm just sitting here washing underwear & waiting to leave for tonight's show. Last night we had a great reaction even though everything went wrong for me. I've never seen so many guys in heat at once. They were standing there panting and wiggling their tongues back & forth. Ace from Kiss was at the show last night with a friend and we all went down to the hotel bar where some 60 yr. old scientist who claims he invented the radial tire kept staring down my top and telling me how 20 years ago he ran off with a black blues singer...

And from later in the same letter:

I think it shall baffle me forever why C.C. is such an idiot. I hate stupid people! Especially ones who intentionally set my jacket on fire with their cigarette... I've been eating candy bars and ice cream all day to gain weight but it's no use.

April 21, 2000 -- Hotel Hell

As with all rock bands, a lot of the Runaways time spent together was on tour. A lot of a band's time on tour is spent in hotels. Spending time in hotels in strange cities gets really boring. Especially when you're sixteen and you can't leave on your own. What do you do with all that time? Read on!

Meet the Dead BoysMy favorite all-time hotel incident took place in Cleveland in 1976. At that time, every rock band that played in Cleveland stayed at Swingo's Celebrity Keg & Quarter, a hotel known for being rock group tolerant. After our show at the Agora Ballroom, we gathered in the hotel bar with Ace Frehley from Kiss who had come to see the show.

Ace was well-known at the time for his Rodney Dangerfield impressions. So we're in the bar being chatted up by a guy who claimed to have invented the radial tire, when Ace starts doing his Rodney routine and cracking up at himself. Or perhaps I should say cackling, because Ace has this loud, high-pitched laugh which is one of the funniest things I've ever heard. So we're all getting drunk, Ace is laughing his head off, and the rock band-friendly hotel staff actually kick us out of the bar. But we're having too much fun to stop the party, so we decide to continue it in one of our rooms. We get off the elevator, and since my room is closest to the elevator, I unlock my door. No sooner is the door open, than three guys I've never seen before burst through the door, push the two beds in the room together in the middle of the floor, set up a film projector, and start showing porno movies on the wall. At that point I finally managed to get my wits about me and say, "Excuse me, who are you guys?" To which they loudly replied "We're the Dead Boys!" I had no idea who the Dead Boys or Stiv Bator were so I asked them to leave and we continued the party without them.

The next morning I woke up in the middle of the room surrounded by a sea of empty liquor bottles. Ah, Cleveland.

Afternoon Delight at 3:00 A.M. Alot of our hotel adventures, including this one, seem to have happened in Cleveland. But this story starts in L.A.

Before our first tour, the record company advanced us the whopping huge sum of ,000 for equipment and clothes for the entire band. So our roadie (more on him below) sheparded us around in his van to thrift stores all over Hollywood looking for cheap clothes we could wear on stage. We would always listen to the radio in our roadie's van and in 1976 there were some really good songs to be heard -- "Lido Shuffle" (which we used to sing along to as "Lita" Shuffle) and "Play That Funky Music White Boy" were two of our favorites, along with the usual rock-and-roll suspects like Aerosmith and Deep Purple. But the song that was played on the radio most was "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band, and I absolutely hated it. It was on all the time and I would always beg our roadie to change the station. And of course he would always leave it on and turn up the volume to torture me.

We drove around to a bunch of stores, buying items here and there, and toward the end of the day, Cherie found some clothes she really liked. It was getting late, but we still needed a few more things so we made some more stops. We were all getting tired and our roadie was getting really impatient. So we finally find the last few items we need, when Cherie announces that she doesn't like the things she bought and wants to take them back.

At this point our roadie is furious. He races back to the store where Cherie wants to return the clothes, and as we pull into the parking lot, "Afternoon Delight" comes on the radio. Our roadie screeches to a halt, opens the door, rips the speakers out of his dashboard shouting "I will never hear that song through these speakers again," and hurls the speakers as far as he can into the parking lot.

Cut to Cleveland several weeks later. Being the paranoid person that I am, I always made sure to lock and deadbolt my hotel room door. But Cleveland was the first stop on our first tour, and in the excitement I forgot. The outfit I had worn on stage that night was white, and since we were going to be at the hotel for two nights, I decided to wash it in the sink and lay it out on the floor to dry when I went to bed.

Naturally, our manager and the other band members picked that night to play a prank on me. At around 3:00 in the morning, they got an extra key to my room, and holding on to each other's waist, line danced all over my clean, white laundry loudly singing the chorus to "Afternoon Delight." Sky rockets in flight... AAGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Berkeley BlackoutThe Runaways first trip outside of Southern California was the trip we made by motorhome to Berkeley to play at UC Berkeley. I had developed a bad case of bronchitis before the trip and the doctor has presribed a medication called Aminophyllin which makes it easier to breathe. What I didn't know when I left on the trip was that Aminophyllin also has a serious adrenalizing effect, kind of like drinking an entire pot of coffee, and the doctor had prescribed twice the usual dosage. I later found out that I can only tolerate about one-quarter of the normal dosage. So I had eight times the amount of the drug I could handle in my system and spent the entire 8-hour trip throwing up.

Before we had left on the trip, Kim Fowley had told us that we had been receiving death threats from militant lesbian and feminist groups in the Berkeley area. The day we played, it was over 100 degrees and we were playing outdoors. So there I am, throwing up in the 100 degree heat waiting for a militant lesbian attack. As it turned out there were no angry women at the gig, but I passed out and we blew out the sound system. So our set was only about 20 minutes long and then we went back to the hotel.

Okay, finally -- the hotel part of the story. Since it was our first trip out of town, the band wanted to go out and celebrate and explore Berkeley. Since I wasn't in any shape to party I stayed back at the hotel. Alone. Just turned 16 years old a few weeks before. And a couple of hours after everyone left, all the lights in the entire city went out. So I spent my first night on the road alone in a pitch black hotel room.

Getting Shafted Another early Runaways road trip was to San Diego, California, where we opened for the band Boston. We spent the night, and the following day stayed around for interviews. Around 9 P.M. we left our rooms to go down to the car for the drive home. Only Cherie, who was going to drive, accidentally dropped the car keys down the elevator shaft. It took the hotel until almost three in the morning to retrieve the keys and we didn't get back to L.A. until the sun was coming up the next morning.

Ro Rutt Rucking in Motel 6 In 1976 Rockford, Illinois might have been the most boring place on earth for a touring rock band. We stayed at the local Motel 6. The phones in the rooms were turned off at 10:00 P.M. and the television in the room Lita and I were sharing didn't work. We were getting really bored, so we walked down the outdoor hallway to our roadie's room to borrow his tape deck.

This particular roadie liked to do Scooby-Doo impressions while saying really filthy things. So before we could borrow his tape deck, we had to listen to his advice in Scooby voice, which concluded with the admonition "Ro Rutt Rucking in Motel 6."

Lita and I went back to our room and turned on the tape deck to play one of our roadie's homemade compilation tapes. I sat on the bed and read while Lita put on make-up out of sheer boredom. While she was putting on eye-liner, Deep Purple's "Highway Star" came on. Lita took her eyeliner wand and wrote 'Highway Star' on the mirror. I saw her doing something to the mirror and got up to see what she was doing. I took the wand from her and drew, er, let's just say a body part on the mirror. All of a sudden Lita and I looked at each other with a grin and without saying a word to each other, ran out and covered the outside of the windows to our roadie's room with, er, colorful drawings and the all-important warning, "Ro Rutt Rucking in Motel 6."

The next day, when we got back from our sound check, we found we had been double-locked out of our rooms. Not the last time this was to happen. Our manager had not paid our bill for the last few nights, and between that and our decorations the management had had it with us. But they had messed up the double lock on the door the room Lita and I were sharing and we were able to get in. When they found out about it, they accused us of breaking in. They threatened to call the police unless we paid in full and cleaned up our artwork. So Lita and I had to go around with a rag and a bucket full of soapy water, scrubbing the building, until the management was satisfied.

Shaving Cream While I'm on the subject of decorating hotel rooms, I can get into the first story of things we used to do to get back at our Scooby-loving roadie.

In 1976 we played a couple of nights at a club in Cincinatti called "Bogarts." This was the gig that earned us the review calling us "putrid and repusive" and saying the only thing it looked like our lips hadn't embraced was the front bumper of a Mack truck. The band spent the entire rest of the tour looking for a Mack truck we could all get down and kiss so we could satisfy the reviewer that we hadn't missed a thing. Anyway, our gig at Bogarts coincided with some sort of convention and we couldn't get a hotel room in Cincinatti. So we had to stay at a really cheap motel across the border in Highland Heights, Kentucky, where the only restaurant was a Burger King three miles away that required us to walk past a graveyard. But that's another story.

In honor of our roadie's birthday, we once again looked to our handy-dandy hotel room decorating skills and covered our roadie's walls with shaving cream happy birthday slogans. We got into hot water again, but this time our roadie had to clean it up.

Roadie Revenge, Part II We tortured our Scooby-loving roadie but he deserved it. We are, after all, talking about the guy who intentionally set off the fire alarms in the middle of the night while we were staying at a large hotel in England, scaring the crap out of everyone in the hotel and necessitating an evacuation. So we tried to "get" him every chance we could.

Every once in awhile I would get tired of rooming with another member of the band so I would room with one of our roadies. It was always a pleasant break. They were seldom around, and I'd always get to use the bathroom whenever I wanted without a fight. One time I found myself sharing a room at the Lexington Park Hotel in New York City with our "Ro Rutt Rucking" friend, a few years after a fire had caused serious damage there.

The fire damage had been repaired, but apparently not too well, because the bathroom door stuck and when you closed it too hard, soot came out of the vent over the bathtub. So the day after I discovered this, I came back to the room to find our roadie taking a bath. The door to the bathroom was closed but not locked. So I kindly said, "here, let me close the door for you," and slammed the door shut as hard as I could. When I opened it back up, there was our roadie, in the bathtub, covered from head to foot with black soot. If only I'd had a camera.


Royal Oak Theatre Marquee, 1976
I'm glad someone got a picture of this, otherwise, no one would ever believe it.
Royal Bull at the Royal Oak I've mentioned before that one of the highlights of my time in the Runaways was playing the Royal Oak Theatre in Michigan with Cheap Trick and Tom Petty opening for us. Anyway, after the show, the guys from Cheap Trick decided to come back to the hotel with us to celebrate and hang out. So we get to the hotel and, once again, our manager hasn't paid the bill so when we get up to our rooms we discover that we've been locked out. So I pick up the phone in the hall, call down to the front desk and, lying very calmly, tell them that I'm diabetic and can they please unlock my hotel room so I can get my insulin. They showed up in less than two minutes! Once the door was unlocked, all four members of Cheap Trick, all five members of the Runaways, and various other crew members and hangers-on piled into my single hotel room, where we spent the next few hours getting to know each other (no, not that way -- get your minds out of the gutter).

Wahh, Cherie-San Arriving in Japan in June of 1977 was an awesome experience. We were greeted by swarms of photographers, journalists and fans, we were swept out of the airport without having to go through customs, we were followed to our hotel by rabid fans on motorcycles with our names taped to their helmets. For the first time in our lives, we were stars. We even got our own hotel rooms instead of having to share.

We arrive at our luxurious Tokyo hotel to find that our record company in Japan has filled the rooms with flowers, fruit and champagne, along with all the Japanese magazines doing feature stories on the Runaways. Imagine my chagrin when I picked up a magazine devoted solely to the band, to find that without the band's knowledge, after a photo session at my mother's house, Cherie had done a private session with the photographer and the entire first half of the magazine is filled with photos of Cherie half-naked. The band was furious and didn't speak to Cherie for our first three days in Japan. Fortunately, the overwhelming support of the Japanese people and being truly famous for the first time put is all in such a good mood we were able to forgive Cherie and get on with the tour.



CherieSan.jpg
A portion of the cover of the Japanese Runaways magazine
The entire picture is too large to scan, but you get the idea.

Pop Girls Face Theft Probe The Runaways first trip abroad was a trip to England in 1976. Of course we didn't know what to bring with us to England and we weren't allowed to leave the hotel unescorted so our big problem was hair dryers.

We stayed at a hotel in London called The White House, a dreary place but they tried. For a five pound deposit and your signature, you could borrow a hair dryer. Well Cherie forgot to give hers back when we left the hotel. This probably wouldn't have been a big deal, except some of the other girls were collecting hotel keys as souveniers. Unbeknownst to us, there had been a rash of hotel robberies in England shortly before we arrived, and since rooms hadn't actually been broken into, it had to be someone who obtained keys to the various hotels. We were instant suspects.


A Scottish newspaper report on the arrests

Our stop in London was the last on our tour before going on to Belgium and other places in Europe. We drove to Dover to make the channel crossing, but when we got to the port, Scotland Yard stopped us and searched our cars. They arrested Sandy, Joan and Cherie for the theft of hotel room keys and hairdryers.

Sandy and Cherie were thrown into a cell together and Joan, who was legally an adult in England, was placed in a separate cell, until she started singing "Dead End Justice" at the top of her lungs and the police finally agreed to put her in with Sandy and Cherie. The band had to hire a barrister to appear in court with the girls the next day and my mother, who was along on the tour as our chaperone, was so rattled by the day in court that I found her in the hotel bar at the end of the day kicking back drinks like there was no tomorrow.

Sandy and Cherie were released without penalty, but Joan had to pay a fine before they let her go. We ended up having to cancel our entire European tour because of the delay. But since the English press had dubbed us jailbait rock before we even got there, the jailbait rockers getting thrown in jail got us some amazing press.

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Who's the Baddest of them All? I'll finish up this week's (very long) installment with a couple of great Lita stories. We were all '70's party girls on the road, but Lita could out-party us all. One night in Cleveland, Lita got tanked and went up to her room and got mostly undressed for bed. She got confused and thought she was in our manager's room (which was across the hall from her room) so, wearing nothing but her underwear, went out to the hall to go back to what she thought was her room. She gets across the hall, realizes that she had, in fact, been in her own room, and turns around to go back, only to find she has left her key inside and is now stuck in the hallway in her underwear. Even Lita thought it was pretty funny.

A not-so-funny Lita story comes out of the time she and I shared a room in Texas and Lita stayed out all night partying. She came in about 9:00 A.M. and got into bed. I had gone to bed at a more-or-less reasonable hour, so I woke up a couple of hours after Lita came in. I sat around in the dark for awhile, and then at around noon, picked up the phone to call a friend in L.A. I turned on the light beside the bed to dial. Lita woke up and started screaming at me. When I tried to tell her it was noon and I had promised to call this mutual friend of ours, she picked up the telephone, hit me over the head with it, and tried to strangle me with the cord. I got my things together in a hurry and spent the next four hours in the lobby waiting for everyone else to wake up and check out so we could leave. The whole thing wouldn't have been a big deal, but the "Rutt Rucker" sold the story to Zig Zag magazine, which printed an R-rated comic-book style version of the story with illustrations in which all the Runaways are naked and have really large breasts. Needless to say, the Runaways don't have fond memories of this guy.

April 28, 2000 -- Switchblade Music

The Runaways wrote and performed many songs that we never recorded. For your entertainment, here are some of the songs that never made it onto vinyl:

Switchblade Music A perfectly silly song that we ultimately rejected because you could easily sing "nah, nah, nah, nah, nah" to it. The chorus lyrics were Switchblade music can't hide the scars, of rose tattoos and stolen cars; switchblade music is all that's left in a razor blade world that's scared to death. Lyrics by Kim Fowley. Duh.

Who Do You Voodoo? Another winner from the archives. The only lyric I can remember is from the beginning of the chorus: I know that you do, who do you voodoo? Another fluffy pop tune that didn't match the tough lyrics.

I'm Your Fantasy a/k/a You're My Fantasy I think the song was originally called I'm Your Fantasy. It was a rather bad slow song and was, in fact, the song responsible for Peggy, Runaways bass player number 2, leaving the band after only three weeks. As I heard it when I joined after Peggy left, Peggy and Cherie got into a fight over who was going to sing the song, and Peggy quit. When I arrived, Cherie decided she wasn't comfortable singing about being someone's fantasy so we changed the lyrics to make the guy she's singing to the fantasy. You know when I touch you, the sky starts crumbling or some such nonsense. Baby, can't you see, you're my fantasy? Yuk.

Wildman Sams I'm not sure this really qualified as a song. The first gig we played after I joined the band was at a youth club in Garden Grove, California, called Wildman Sams. We had to do 4 (!) sets a night and we didn't have enough songs. So we were at rehearsal one day thinking of ways to extend our sets (we weren't supposed to do repeats, but of course we did and we still didn't have enough material). We would hold contests to see who could scream louder, the boys or the girls, and we filled in our songs with various solos, but it wasn't enough to fill four sets without repeats. So while Kim Fowley was giving us the pep talk (i.e., screaming at us), I started playing the worst riff I could make up and Kim started singing along to it. He was singing Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, Supergirl. Basically, it really sucked, but Kim decided we could make it into a song by singing Wildman Sams or whatever club we were playing at instead of Supergirl. It was a song that made It's a heartbeat, it's a lovebeat sound like a Beethoven symphony, but it helped us fill the set and the kids at the clubs we played early on loved it because it was about them (sort of).

Finally, this isn't a rejected song, but a rejected name for the band. When I joined, the band didn't have a name. Kim Fowley put together a list of names he thought was catchy. One of them was The Slaughter House Five, a name which got taken off the list when I suggested that a more likely name was Five Easy Pieces! Fortunately, someone came up with the name The Runaways and we were spared from Kim Fowley's list. Although he did seriously suggest that our first album feature a picture of a bedraggled kitten with a frayed ribbon around its neck sitting in a gutter, and that the album be called Dirty Pussy. Saner heads prevailed.

May 5, 2000 -- The Crappiest Place on Earth

One of the photographers who regularly shot the Runaways was Barry Levine, who also took memorable pictures of Kiss and Tina Turner, among others. I met Barry in 1976 at a Hyatt Hotel in Chicago when we opened at the Aragon Ballroom for the band Angel. I had been paying a visit to the guys in the band (the Runaways were, unfortunately, staying at some really crappy hotel in a seedier part of the city), and as I was leaving I ran into this guy who was carrying around a large box of photographs. I asked to see his work, and he showed me pictures of Kiss and Angel. When he found out I was in the Runaways, he expressed interest in photographing us, and I introduced him to the band. Barry ended up shooting more pictures of the Runaways than any other photographer, including our Queens of Noise album cover and a large number of exclusive spreads for Poster, a swedish magazine devoted, as its name suggests, to posters of rock bands.


QueensOfNoise.jpg


Queens of Noise cover by Barry Levine
click to see a larger version
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Music Life cover by Barry Levine
click to see a larger version

Barry became our unofficial band photographer as well as a good friend. One day, Poster magazine approached Barry about doing an exclusive spread on the band and Barry decided to shoot us at Disneyland. So Barry drove us all down to Anaheim and we paid to get into the park. First stop was at one of the administration buildings to pick up a pass to do a commercial shoot. Well the woman responsible took one look at Joan's leather jacket, which was covered in pins and symbols, including a large swastika, and not only refused us permission to take photos, but asked us to leave the park. Which was pretty funny considering that Joan, at least as far as I could tell, didn't even know what a swastika was or why anyone might find it offensive. We were getting ready to leave when I asked the Disney woman if we could stay and take pictures if we all bought and wore Disney t-shirts. After a difficult bout of thinking and consutation with three other Disney employees, the woman gave us permission and we wandered over to the closest concession stand to buy t-shirts. But in keeping with our rebellious natures, we bought childrens shirts, which were, to say the least, tight.


disney.jpg

1976 -- engaging in "lesbian behavior"

We went into the park and Barry started snapping pictures of us walking around and going on some of the rides. After a while we noticed, however, that there were a few people in suits following us around and keeping an eye on us. All of a sudden, as we were walking along outside of the Matterhorn with our arms around each other's shoulders, the suits surrounded us and demanded we leave the park immediately. When we asked them why we had to leave, they said we were engaging in "lesbian behavior," which was against park rules. Several years later, Disney would get sued for discriminatory policies against homosexuals and its policies would be found to violate people's civil rights. But in 1976, Disneyland still had such a strong bias against homosexuality that young girls were not allowed to dance with each other when bubble-gum pop bands played the park at night, and five young girls could not put their arms around each other in a show of friendship.

And they thought we were the Nazis?


Footnote: Disney has long since changed its policy and was, in fact, the first Hollywood studio to offer health benefits to same sex partners. Disney's change in policy brought it under fire from the moral majority and Disney has, to its credit, stuck to its guns and maintained its policy.

May 12, 2000 -- A Rat in the Cellar (or Was That Iggy?)

One of the more memorable shows we ever played was at the Ratskellar club in Boston in 1976.

The Rat, as it was fondly referred to, is a large, cavernous club in the heart of Boston. Our show there was oversold due to heavy airplay by radio station WFNX FM. I'm not sure whether the club has no air conditioning or if it was just broken the night we played, but between the lack of air and the extreme crowding, it was well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the stage and since we were the headliners, we were playing a long set. But that was only part of what made the evening memorable. The other part had to do with two things that happened right before we took the stage. The first was a fight I had with Cherie. I can't remember what it was about, but it had been brewing for some time. The second was someone telling us that Iggy and Bowie were in the audience. As every true Runaways fan knows, Cherie was a David Bowie fanatic.

We took the stage to a wild response and proceeded to rock the house. About half an hour into the set, however, the sound system blew. While they were fixing it, we held a shouting contest, boys against girls, just like in our old fill-the-set-however-you-can days from Wildman Sam's. If possible, the lack of a sound system and all the shouting made the club even hotter. We were dripping sweat and the audience was getting antsy. Finally, after a long delay, the sound came back on and we got back into our set. As we were nearing the end, really getting into the high energy numbers and cranking up both the heat and the volume, it happened -- the entire power system blew, plunging everything into pitch black darkness and pressing heat. I was pretty overheated at this point since I was wearing a beautiful seuqin-covered vintage sweater (yes, a sweater!) that had belonged to my grandmother. Before the power had crashed, we had been due to play a slow song -- Hearbeat. I had originally written the lyrics as a mock love song to Joey Ramone, but Cherie and our producer, Earle Mankey, rewrote them so that Cherie was singing a love song to someone else, although I had never been sure who it was.

So the lights and the sound system finally come back up and before we launch into Hearbeat, Cherie, at whom I am still royally pissed off, dedicates the song to the man she wrote it for -- David Bowie. At this point, my anger comes to a full boiling head, which also pretty well describes the temperature on stage. All I want to do is get the damn sweater off, and what better way to take attention away from Cherie during her big declaration of love than by doing it. So I whip off my sweater and play the last couple of songs in a push-up bra, thereby diverting everyone's attention from Cherie to my breasts. It was very sweet revenge, although Cherie got back at me several towns later my kicking my beautiful, rare 1965 Gibson Thunderbird on stage and by putting a cigarette out on my jacket. But it was worth it. Of course I found out a few years later that while Bowie and Iggy had, in fact, come to see the show, they left long before we played Heartbeat so ours were empty gestures all around.

But, like I said, it was a memorable show.
.

May 19, 2000 -- Play This Piece of *@!*

When I first joined the Runaways in late November/early December 1976, three weeks before my 16th birthday and about one week after Cherie's 16th birthday, The Runaways rehearsed in a run-down trailer we called "Buds," in the northeastern corner of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. Although I took a series of buses to Buds to get to my audition, once I joined the band, we had a roadie pick Joan, Cherie and me after school since we all lived in the West Valley. I would be picked up first, then Joan, and then we'd wait in the van until one of us got brave enough to go in and wake up Cherie. Eventually we'd get her moving, and we'd drive out to Bud's to rehearse.

It is difficult for mere words to do justice to the squalor that was Bud's. Dog doo on the floor, p.a. system that could barely be heard and blew out only a few times on a good day, microphones that occasionally worked, mildewed walls and carpeting, bathroom that never got cleaned, etc. We'd start rehearsals and then Kim Fowley would show up and throw microphone stands at us yelling, Come on you dog ____s, play this piece of ___! We could never hear ourselves through the bad p.a. system, so we'd all be off key. Everyone would pick on Cherie and then Cherie would pick on me to the point where I got scared to sing and, as a result, I didn't do any singing until the second album. But I least I didn't get picked on too much by Kim like Cherie did.

When we recorded our first album, Kim decided that if he could make Cherie feel ugly, she'd sing more beautifully. So he had her sing all her vocals in the dark and made her feel like crap. This was in total keeping with Kim's strategy of divide and conquer. He'd make each of us feel alternately like the queen of the band or the one that was about to get kicked out, and he made sure to keep us fighting at all costs. If we were busy hating and fearing each other, we'd be too busy to band together and realize that we were getting royally ripped off. He did this to all of us, but his favorite target was Cherie. He'd give interviews and say that the band would be better off if Cherie hung herself from a coat rack and became the Marilyn Monroe of the band. He'd tell her she lacked "rock and roll authority" (whatever that meant) and he'd suggest to the rest of us that as long as there was a blonde in the band, no one would care which one of us it was.

Kim made sure that we didn't record very many songs on which he didn't own 100% of the publishing like he did on Runaways songs. To get an idea of how unheard of it is for a band to give away such a large percentage of its publishing, all you have to do is watch the Behind The Music episode on The Black Crowes, in which Chris Robinson says they had the worst record deal of all time because Rick Rubin took 50% of the band's publishing and a percentage of their merchandising. Kim Fowley took 100% of our publishing and 95% of our merchandising. Joan and I came back from England with a song we'd found, a little ditty called I Love Rock and Roll, and told Kim we wanted to record it for Queens of Noise. Kim claimed he'd had the record sent from England and that it had arrived broken. We made him get another copy. But ultimately, he wouldn't let us record it, saying it wasn't a good enough song. Laughable when you consider that Johnny Guitar passed muster! But Kim wouldn't have owned any publishing and on our songs he owned it all. Which was on top of us only having 5 points on our albums for the entire band to share. To top it all off, Kim never paid us a single cent, not even the $6,000/year required as a minimum under California law, an amount he was contractually obligated to pay.

It took a long time before we got up the collective guts to kick Kim Fowley out of our lives, but by that time the damage was done. Although there is an unspoken collective agreement by the Runaways not to badmouth each other, we have no such compunctions when it comes to the adults who abused and took advantage of us. When Edgeplay comes out, expect to hear a lot of Fowley bashing. The man deserves it.

May 26, 2000 -- See you Raider... Much Raider

Toward the end of our second U.S. tour we played a club in Denver, Colorado. Our opening act was a stand-up comic named Benny Boulder who, several years later, would move to California and change his name to Sam Diego. I don't remember much of his act except that he would walk out on-stage and pretend (?) to sniff Sandy's drum seat. Anyway, this week's story isn't about him.

I had been in another one of the seemingly endless series of fights I had with Cherie on this particular tour. As usual, I can't remember what this fight was about, but a few days before we played in Denver, Cherie had put a cigarette out on my jacket. I could never be that confrontational in my fights with other band members, so the only revenge I could think of was to spit all over the handle of Cherie's make-up case while she wasn't looking. Mostly though, I just avoided Cherie when we were fighting and during our Denver shows, that meant that instead of hanging out in the dressing room, I spent most of my time out in the hall reading. So before our second set at one of our Denver shows, I'm sitting on the floor down the hall reading a book, when two guys come up to me with a poster of the band and ask for my autograph. As I take the poster and marker from them, they tell me that they are John Matusak and Fred Biletnikoff from the Oakland Raiders.


Fred Biletnikoff of The Oakland Raiders


I look up at the two guys claiming to be football players and while the guy who says he is John Matuzak is really big, the one purporting to be Fred Biletnikoff is pretty small and unimposing. Plus they're in Denver, and Oakland wasn't playing in Denver that I was aware of. So I figured these guys were full of shit and I said, "yeah, right," or something. They started protesting that they really were from the Raiders and that they were big fans. I was still convinced they were pulling my leg, so I took the poster from them and in HUGE letters wrote "The Rams are gonna kick your ass in the Super Bowl" and threw it back at them. They read it, kind of laughed and left.

A few months later I'm watching t.v., and on comes a commercial featuring John Matuzak, linebacker for the Oakland Raiders. And it's the guy who asked for my autograph. So I did a little checking and found out that Fred Biletnikoff, star receiver for the Raiders, was a small guy. They hadn't been pulling my leg at all. That was the least gracious I've probably ever been toward fans. John Matuzak died about 15 years ago so I'll never get to ask him what happened to that poster with my obnoxious scrawl or to apologize for my disbelief. But Fred... if you're out there -- sorry!!!

June 2, 2000 -- But Can You Sit On It?

The week's story isn't exactly a Runaways story, but it involves our good friend, Hernando Courtright, whom I have known since before I joined the band in 1975 and who is a dear friend of mine to this day. Hernando spent a lot of time with the band, doing everything from rescuing Joan and me from the airport when we flew back from San Francisco without supervision, to loaning us his clothes to wear on stage, to accompanying us on various adventures, some of which I've set forth in this week's installment. In a way, Hernando is the 6th Runaway, and this week's story is his story.

Joan, Kari Krome and me with Hernando
backstage at the Noel Redding show, early 1976
(click thumbnail to see a larger version)

Before I joined the band, I would take the bus into Hollywood and hang out at various clubs -- The Rainbow, The Starwood and The Whiskey were my favorite hangouts. In particular, I used to love to see bands and go dancing at The Starwood. My best friend from high school, Vicki Tornabeni, and I would hitchhike into Hollywood and hang out with the guys in a really strange band called Zolar X that played the Starwood regularly and would get us in for free even when they weren't playing. Zolar X was unusual in that they wore prosthetic ears, heads, etc., way before prosthetics were common. Vicki and I lived in the San Fernando Valley and I will never forget the night Zolar X showed up at my house during one of my mother's dinner parties, wearing full prosthetics, to take Vicki and me out to see some band at the Starwood. I don't remember what band we saw that night, but among the bands I saw there in the 70's were Van Halen and Devo. In fact, Lita and I were the ones who brought Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to the Starwood to see Van Halen, and Gene was so impressed with the band that he produced their demo tape, the one that got them a deal with Warner Bros. Records. But before I joined The Runaways, I would go the Starwood and the other clubs with Vicki, or with my friends Trudi and Helen. In fact, I was dancing at the Starwood with Trudi and Helen when I met Rodney Bigenheimer, who told me about the Runaways and Kim Fowley. But that's another story.

One day, Trudi asked me if I knew Hernando. I didn't think I did, so I asked her who Hernando was and she told me "he hangs out at The Rainbow and he looks gay but he's not." So a few nights later, I'm at the Rainbow and I see this guy walking down the stairs. I walk up to him and say "Excuse me, are you Hernando?" He said he was and asked how I knew. I said "a friend of my described you." It was until many, many years later that I told him the actual description! We didn't get to be friends that night, but I would run into him around town, and one night, at a party for The Sweet at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, I wrote my phone number down on a piece of paper and gave it to him. He never called.

Cut to a few months later, and the 3-piece version of the Runaways (Sandy, Joan and Mickey Steele) are playing at the Whiskey. There weren't very many people at the show, but one of them was Hernando. When I went up and reminded him of who I was, he told me that the night of the Sweet party he had gotten trashed and gotten phone numbers from about 8 different girls, and that he managed to figure out who all of them except me were. I never ended up dating Hernando, but he became one of my closest friends. His father owned the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and he lived in a room there, but since I was too young to drive, he would drive all the way out to the far west end of the San Fernando Valley to pick me up (a good half hour drive out of the way), and we would drive back into Hollywood to hang out and see shows.

One night, Hernando took me to the house of an early Bowie-esque musician named Jobriath.

Someone had rigged Jobriath's telephone so it bypassed AT&T's sensors making it possible to call all over the world and not get charged for the call. So all kinds of freaky Hollywood rocker types would hang out at Jobriath's house making phone calls to Japan, England, wherever. The day Hernando and I visited, Jobriath was telling a crowd of people about his new method of doing drugs -- putting them up his rear. Some guy started telling Jobriath about a great, new, synthetic heroin he had tried, to which Jobriath responded, "but can you sit on it?" At the age of 15, this was a memorable experience. Because Hernando lived at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (Warren Beatty lived there, too, and during the '70's the hotel was a real hot spot for bands and actors) he seemed to know everybody, and we had lots of memorable experiences. The adventures didn't stop once I joined the band.

Hernando would often get mistaken for Freddie Mercury of Queen, and on occasion he would take shameless advantage of the resemblence. There is a famous restaurant in Los Angeles called The Palm, which has on its walls drawings of famous actors and Hollywood executives and directors, many of which have been autographed (the drawings, not the directors). I think it has since been painted over, but there used to be an autographed drawing of Freddie Mercury on the wall there. Only the autograph wasn't Freddie's, it was Hernando's, and Hernando got a pretty good meal on the restaurant's tab on the night he signed it.

One night, Hernando and I were having a late night/early morning dinner at a coffee shop in the San Fernando Valley called DuPar's, another late night hangout of musicians and music industry people. We were with a friend of ours, Jeff Colburn, who edited Rock magazine, and he was in a mood to make trouble. The Runaways had been profiled the night before on a local 11:00 P.M. news program, and when our waitress tried to get us to make a little less noise in the restaurant, Jeff pointed to me and said, "Don't you know who that is? That's Jackie Fox from the Runaways." It turned out the waitress had seen the newscast the night before and was suitably impressed. So Jeff decided to really make her night and tell her Hernando was Freddie Mercury. Since she'd already recognized me, she had no reason to doubt that Jeff was telling her the truth about Freddie. "What am I doing standing here talking to you?!?" she said, "I should be sitting next to you," and she sat down next to Hernando. A few seconds later she said, "What am I doing sitting next to you? I should be kissing you" and, much to Hernando's chagrin, started passionately kissing him. She was so overwhelmed with awe that she didn't try to stop me when I decided to see if I could shoot my scrambled eggs into the overhead lamp with my fork. In fact, we were getting away with some really obnoxious behavior, when Jeff decided to press his luck and set his napkin on fire in the middle of the table. At which point not even our waitress's deep, abiding love for Freddie Mercury could keep us from getting thrown out of the coffee shop.

Anyway, the Hernando stories could go on and on, but that's enough for this week. On a final note, I thought it would be really cool to put up a picture of Zolar X, but I can't find any. If anyone has one, or knows where to find one, please send me an e-mail. And for those of you who are interested in the British glam rock scene, The Glam Page and http://www.doremi.co.uk/glam/ are good places to start.

June 9, 2000 -- Oxygen is for Sissies

The Runaways were much bigger in Japan than anywhere else in the world. Upon our arrival in Tokyo in 1977, we were greeted by hordes of fans and members of the press. Coming from the U.S., where the press tended to regard us as a cruel joke, we were overwhelmed by the response. We got followed from the airport by numerous fans, including one fan on a motorcycle who had stencilled our names on his helmet.

During our stay in Tokyo, we did a large number of television and store appearances. One such store appearance was particularly memorable and terrifying.

We were supposed to be dropped off by limo at the front of the store, where we would meet fans and sign autographs. The appearance was over-attended, however, and the front of the store too packed for us to go in that way. So the limo driver went around back through the alley. Once we got into the alley, though, we discovered that it was even more packed than the front, but there was no turning back as the limo was immediately overrun by fans and the driver couldn't see to reverse.


We inched our way through the alley, with the driver and us terrified we were going to run over some poor Japanese kid. The windows were rolled up and as the fans surrounded the limo, we started to run out of air, a truly terrifying moment. So someone cracked a window, at which point the fans started to throw things through the cracks, including a letter addressed to me, which turned out to be a five page love letter! After about 45 minutes of inching forward in fits and jerks, we finally made it through the alley, although we never made it to the store as the record company decided it was too risky. At another store appearance later that week, the crowds grew too thick again and we had to escape through the basement, and through the kitchen in the basement of the building next to it, before being hustled up through the department store above the basement in the second building.

All in all our store appearances were scary, but also a lot of fun because we never had a response like that anywhere else in the world.

June 16, 2000 -- Too Hot to Handle

I don't remember exactly how it happened, but somehow, in 1976, we hooked up with the british band UFO (Doctor, Doctor; Lights Out in London; Too Hot to Handle) and ended up hanging out with the guys in the band. I can't remember if we met them first and then went to see them play at The Golden West Ballroom in Norwalk, California, or if that's where we met them but, in any event, that show is my first real memory of UFO. I'm not even sure which of us went, but I know Lita was there and I'm pretty sure Cherie was as well. Anyway, we were backstage hanging out with the band when the opening act went on. I asked someone who the opening act was and was told "some local band from Orange County." They sounded pretty good through the walls, though, so Lita and I went and checked them out. The band was totally awesome. It turned out they weren't from Orange County, but rather were from Pasadena and were called Van Halen. So that night started our friendship not only with UFO, but with Van Halen, too.

It's hard to believe, looking at their picture now, but the guys in UFO were really fun and cool and Lita and I, in particular, and to a lesser extent Cherie, hung out with them alot when they were in town, especially Phil Mogg, the lead singer, and Pete Way, the bass player.



No, this isn't Spinal Tap, it's Michael (then known as Michel) Schenker,
Pete Way and Phil Mogg of UFO around the time we knew them

One day, Lita and I were visiting Pete and Phil at the Sunset Marquis, a funky hotel off the Sunset Strip in Hollywood where a lot of rock bands used to stay. Pete and Phil were really fun, kind of manic guys, and on the day we visited, someone had brought them a huge stack of American rock magazines that had feature stories on UFO. In a moment of frenzy, Pete and Phil ripped every one of them to shreds, strewing the pieces all over the floor of their living room. They then decided to have a water fight with us, and proceeded to blast Lita and me with squirt guns and glasses of water until, eventually, the floor was completely covered with soggy magazines and all of us were soaking wet. I had magazine pieces and ink plastered all over me and make-up dripping down my face so, when the fight was over, I asked the guys if I could use their shower. When I got out, I heard Lita calling me, so I wrapped a towel around myself and went out into the living room where Lita was on the phone to our manager.

Lita had called our manager to check in, and he asked to talk to us both at once. So Lita held up the phone receiver between us, and our manager told us we had just been booked to open for Queen in Hyde Park in England, an outdoor show that was expected to draw 100,000 people. We were, of course, quite ecstatic, so when it started getting a little bit hot in the room I figured it was just the excitement. Until I noticed that it was getting especially hot between my legs. So I looked down, and Pete and Phil had taken the one dry magazine left, lit it on fire, and were holding it beneath my towel! At that point, Lita and I wisely decided to leave, but later that week, Rodney Bingenheimer called and invited us to go to Disneyland with UFO. We couldn't resist.



The Runaways with Rodney Bigenheimer



As I remember it, the group that piled into Rodney's huge, old car to go to Disneyland that day consisted of Rodney, Lita, Cherie, Pete, Phil, Michel Schenker and me, and maybe the drummers from one or both bands. We ran around Disneyland all day long, having a great time, and after a few hours sat down at a cafe to have something to drink. At which point Michel got up and walked away. When he wasn't back after 45 minutes, Pete and Phil wandered off to look for him.

About a half an hour later, Pete and Phil came back, propping up between them Michel Schenker, stoned out of his mind on quaaludes and tripping (literally) through the bushes. He was so messed up, they had to take him out to Rodney's car where he promptly passed out. The rest of us continued to enjoy Disneyland for another couple of hours. When we went out to Rodney's car to drive back to L.A., Michel was still passed out in the back seat. He remained passed out all the way back to Hollywood and was still out cold when the rest of us stopped at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip to hang out.

We stayed at the Rainbow for hours as it was the big rock hang out in the '70's and a lot of fun. Around midnight, Rodney went out to check on Michel. Rodney came back and reported that Michel was still passed out, but had pissed all over his car and Rodney wasn't sure if he should have his car washed because, after all, it was Michel Schenker's urine. We persuaded Rodney to have his car cleaned, and Michel's behavior persuaded us to stop hanging out so much with UFO. But it was fun while it lasted.

June 23, 2000 -- The Cheapest Trick of All

For the next few weeks, I'm going to continue with the theme of how the Runaways and I met various other bands and got to be friends with them. Since we were the first all female real rock band, every guy band in the world wanted to meet us and, of course, a number of them wanted to do a whole lot more than just hang out. I will never forget opening up an issue of Who Put the Bomp in 1976 and reading a letter from Gene Simmons in which he said he wanted to hang out backstage at a Runaways concert and try to make it with all of us. Scary thought or compliment? You decide. But that's another week's story as this week I've decided to write about our good friends from Cheap Trick, one of the greatest bands from the '70's.

I've written in several places about The Runaways doing shows and hanging out with Cheap Trick, but I thought that this week I'd talk about how we met the band. I had a friend, Pat Siciliano, who worked at Epic Records as an A&R (Artists and Repertoire) Executive. A&R execs are the people who discover and sign bands and oversee them through the creative process of making records. Anyway, I'm up at Pat's office one day, and he starts telling me about this new band the label has signed, and he playes me an early version of their first record. I was just blown away! The Ballad of Richard Speck (later renamed The Ballad of T.V. Violence), He's a Whore, etc. All just incredible songs.

So a few months later, we're on tour and we're in Chicago doing an autograph session at a record store.

Cherie, Me and Sandy signing autographs


I'll never forget this particular autograph session, because we walk in and everyone, mostly guys, is standing a few feet back from the counter and it's pretty packed, but all the guys are scared to be the first one to walk up to us. So finally, one guy gets the guts to walk up to the counter and he comes up to me, slaps down a rather dirty pair of jockey shorts and a pen for me to sign them with. All eyes in the store are on me. So I pick up the pen and in very large letters write "My name is Jackie, not Jockey" and throw the underwear back in his face. That broke things up and we had a pretty normal session afterwards. But during the session, a couple of guys asked me if I'd ever heard of a band named Cheap Trick. I said I had heard their album and thought they were great, and the guys told me there were playing that night at a Bowling Alley in Waukegan, Illinois at a fund rasier for the mayor, and that I should go. So when I got back to my hotel room I called our manager, and a few minutes later my hotel room phone rang and it was Rick Nielson inviting me to the show and, unfortunately, giving me really bad directions on how to get there.

I was really pissed off at the rest of the band that evening, so I didn't even tell them about this really cool show. I just grabbed a roadie and off we went up the highway. So far in fact, that we hit the Wisconsin border line. We were truly in the middle of nowhere so we started singing Rocky Horror Show songs -- In the velvet darkness, of the blackest night, burning bright, there's guiding star... We were seriously looking for Frankenfurter's castle. Or at least a bowling alley. Somehow we intuited an exit off the freeway and guessed our way to the bowling alley, where we were treated to a truly kick-ass set of songs by Cheap Trick, including songs like Violins (Violence) that never made it onto any record and some songs that did.

After the show I ran backstage and slammed the door open, yelling at Rick about the really bad directions. I walked out with a apology and a copy of Cheap Trick's first album, signed by the whole band, although it's really hard to read since the first album has a black and white cover and they all signed in black. But it's worth the effort to read what they wrote:



My signed Cheap Trick album cover on which Rick wrote
"Jackie I'd love to eat you"


Robin wrote "I saw the show, you made it cool, you played it hard, 'do-do' what you do!"



Cheap Trick came to a number of our shows in the midwest. The most memorable one was when we drove to Beloit, Wisconsin. I was dozing in the back of the car when I was awakened by someone in the band shouting out loudly, "Turn around, I just saw two pigs _____ing in the middle of the road." So we pulled a viscious u-turn in order to go look at a couple of pigs getting down in the mud, something we'd never seen in California. When we got to the club in the middle-of-nowhere, there were four vaguely familiar looking guys waiting at the club for us to autograph a poster of ourselves. They introduced themselves at Cheap Trick and we signed their poster. We knew when we got kicked out the Motel 6 in Rockford, Illinois that we were in their home town (see Runaways Story of the Week for April 21, 2000) and later we bluffed our way into a hotel with them (see same Story of the Week). They opened a couple of shows for us, including our homecoming show in Los Angeles at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, site of the worst Runaways bootleg every recorded. Don't even bother paying for "Poor Little Girls." It was recorded by some guy holding a tape recorder in the middle of the crowd and it is truly atrocious.

Anyway, I spent many a happy day hanging out with the guys in Cheap Trick by the pool at the Sunset Marquis and am looking forward to seeing them play live again soon. A truly nice, solid group of guys with some of the greatest pop hits ever. Guys if you're reading this -- you were always one of my favorite bands as people and I'm sorry I lost touch. Hello, hello -- see you next time you play L.A.

June 30, 2000 -- Is That a Love Gun In Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See me?

Of all the bands with which the Runaways had memorable experiences, Kiss probably stands at the top of the list. I first met the band in 1975 when I was 15 years old and a freshman in high school. Most of the kids with whom I went to school were into standard pop music -- my class voted Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road as our junior high school graduation song and an Olivia Newton John song as our freshman class song, but there were two groups of musicians with much cooler tastes. There was the "progressive" rock group of musicians, who were into Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Jethro Tull and bands like that, and then there was my group -- the Kiss, Aerosmith, David Bowie group. Our group consisted of John Papadakis and Scott Newell, the Wayne and Garth of El Camino Real High School, along with me and another honor student named Steve Diamond. We would get together and jam in Kiss make-up. It's too bad (or maybe it isn't) that I don't have any pictures of those sessions. They're pretty funny. Anyway we'd hang up signs around school insulting the other contingent of musicians -- "Kiss My Ass" and "Kiss Off" were two of their favorites while my friends were prone to writing things like "Jethro Tull Plays the Skin Flute" and, ocassionally, just to get at me, "Jackie wants your honey not your money."




John Papadakis 1975
Scott Newell 1975
Steve Diamond 1975

One day I was at school and John Papadakis said "Have you ever heard of these guys?" and he held up Kiss' first album cover. I was blown away. It looks corny and circussy now, but back then, there wasn't that much theatre in music and they looked dangerous and menacing. I went out and bought their album right away, and played it until it warped. "Deuce" was my favorite song. So when I heard that Kiss was going to be doing a taping for a national rock show, "In Concert" I think it was, I decided I had to go.

KISS on their first album cover 1974





Steve had a car so I got him to drive us to NBC where they were shooting "In Concert." I somehow figured out which the right lot was, and we parked and walked into a door that said "Artist's Entrace." I walked up to the guard at the counter and told him we were on the guest list. While he was checking, I grabbed Steve's hand and pulled him through a door marked backstage before anyone could stop us. When we got in, I walked up to one of the guys in Earth, Wind and Fire, who were the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet, and told them I'd lost my pass. So they got me one. And there I was, backstage with Kiss. I wandered down to their dressing rooms, wondering is I'd recognize them without their make-up, but there was a list outside each door with their real names -- Gene Klein, Stanley Eisen, Peter Crisscola and Paul Frehley. I had a good laugh over that and then barged in to introduce myself. I remember telling Paul as he was putting make-up on that I thought the first album was great but that the lead guitar wasn't loud enough in the mix on Rock and Roll All Night. He thought that was pretty funny and went and told Ace. Anyway, I got to meet all the guys in Kiss and hear them play their set. When they were done, I went backstage to tell them how great they were and got into a long talk with Gene. I asked him how old he was and he said "25." Then he asked me how old I was and I said "well I'm 10 years younger than you." He gave me a suspicious look, which I always took to mean he was really older than 25 and thought I knew, but in retrospect he was just surprised I was 15. I was there more or less alone, i was wearing a really cute jumper dress stipred in pink, green, orange and other pastels, with pink, high-heeled platfom shoes over a pink shirt. Gene slid his hand up my thigh and said "Are you sure you're only 15?" Rather heady stuff for a 15 year old fan, but it was my first introduction to Kiss. It wouldn't be my last.

After I'd joined the Runaways, I showed up for rehearsal one day to find a dozen roses and a note from Gene saying he wanted to make it with all of us. Lest I make Gene sound just like a total lech, I should also point out that at my request he sent a very nice birthday card to my younger sister and was really good about showing up to see bands I recommended when he was in L.A. I got him to go see Van Halen (he liked them so much he produced their demo tape) and badgered him to see Devo and Tom Petty. He didn't go see Devo, and regarding Tom Petty, he told me that country rock would never make it big. Years later when I ran into him, he told me he owed me an apology because I'd been right about Tom Petty. I'd actually forgotten about the whole thing, but it was nice to hear and gracious of Gene to apologize. We'd see Gene and Paul everywhere around town -- at the Starwood (Lita and I tried to get Paul to dance with us to Led Zeppelin, but he wouldn't do it), at 7-11 (I gave Gene a lift back to his hotel in my mother's pinto and scared the shit of him by pulling a u-turn in the middle of the road), etc.

We never got to open for Kiss, one of my shattered rock 'n' roll dreams, and one that isn't likely to come true given that a Runaways reunion is not happening and Kiss is currently on it's supposedly final tour, but we did run into them all over the place and give each other some great press. I ran into Gene, Peter and Ace a couple of years ago and they told me they were planning a reunion tour. Ace made ma a bowtie out of a dollar bill and drew me a picture on his place mat. I still have the bowtie somewhere. The last time I saw any of the guys from Kiss was at a birthday party for a couple of rock managers -- Gene showed me the Kiss credit card and told me about the Kiss car. I met Gene's son, who is a very nice and intelligent young man, the boy's mother, Shannon Tweed, who is stunningly beautiful. Gene and Shannon make a great couple. Paul was there with his son and while I didn't get to talk to him for very long, he seemed very happy as a dad. I was also priviledged enough to see Kiss play 4 songs at the party for the premiere of Detroit Rock City, which is a truly terrible movie, but which had a really great premiere party. The band looked and sounded terrific.

I remember reading two great bits of graffiti almost side by side in the bathroom at CBGB in New York sometime in 1976 or 1977. One said "The Runaways are all baby dykes." The other said "All the Runaways are ____ing all the members of Kiss." Obviously, these two statements don't blend too well together. I'm not going to tell you if either statement has any merit, but I will tell you that to the best of my knowledge, there is not a single Runaway in Gene's infamous picture collection. But I suspect that there will be more Gene and Kiss stories before long.

July 21, 2000 -- A Dream Date With... Peewee?

This week I am again going to talk about something that is not strictly a Runaways story, but concerns a topic about which people have asked a lot of questions over the years. I'm talking about my appearance on (gulp) yes, The Dating Game.

Why The Dating Game? In the early '80's, while I was working at Skyhill Publishing/Tarka Music (see Story of teh Week for July 14, 2000) I had a roomate who was a booker for Chuck Barris Productions. Her job was to get potential contenstants for The Dating Game to come in for an audition, and she had a weekly quota of applicants. One week she hadn't met her quota and was desperate, so she begged me to go in. All I had to do was show up. I didn't even have to try to be good or likeable or to get on the show.

I showed up at the audition and they lined us up and put us up three at a time to ask and answer mock quetions with the writing staff. Since I had already fulfilled my duty to my roommate, I didn't really care about impressing anyone and just started mouthing off. Of course, they loved me for that, and right after my "audition," someone came up to me and told me they wanted to book me on the show. I figured what the hell, it ought to be a laugh so I agreed. The first thing I had to do was come up with a list of potential questions and then meet with one of the show's writers to go over them and refine them. We came up with our questions, and they set a date for my taping. I was told to arrive 3 hours before the taping and to bring 3 different outfits for them to choose from.

I arrived at the studio in Hollywood where the show was to be taped with my 3 outfits in tow. I put on the first one, a clingy, dark red dress, but since I was going to have to change 2 more times, I didn't bother to put shoes on and walked out for the director barefoot. The director thought that was great and said they'd never had anyone go on the show barefoot and that I was going to be the first. Then they sent to me to makeup, where they put so much eyeliner on me I looked like Mick Jagger. Next stop -- a run-through of my questions with one of the writing staff.

As you probably know if you've watched the show, each episode of The Dating Game features 2 games. In each game, there is one person, usually, but not always, a woman, asking questions of 3 members of the opposite sex. I was to be the asker in the first game on the show, and another woman was to be interviewing 3 bachelors in game number 2. Both of us met with the writer about an hour before the taping to run through our questions and get warmed up. We'd both gotten to know the writer a little when we worked with him on our questions, so we were comfortable even though we were nervous. The writer had done this hundreds of times and was obviously a little bit bored with the process and was giving us kind of flip answers. After one particularly lame answer, I responded "okay, bachelor number 3, we'll see you later -- MUCH later." He told me I had to say that on the show because I could get away with it, although he was quick to point out that the second girl could never get away with an answer like that because she was too sweet. Thanks a lot!

So now it's show time, and they push me out on stage in my clingy red dress, my Mick Jagger makeup and no shoes, and I have to stand there staring at Jim Lange while the announcer tells the audience all about me. I had no idea what to do with myself, and I remember being fascinated by the amount of pancake makeup plastered on Jim Lange's face and being quite surprised by how old he looked. All of a sudden, it was time for me to sit in the hot seat and listen to Jim introduce the bachelors. The first two guys said some sort of hellos, and then it was Bachelor number 3's turn. He said something along the lines of "if you like to swim and ski, then go with me, number 3." I immediately ruled him out.

I discovered that I was so wrapped up with asking my questions and keeping things moving, that it was almost impossible to actually listen to the guys' answers. I did at one point tell one of them "see you later -- much later" and I got resoundingly booed by the audience which really took me aback. Finally, about 2/3 of the way through the questioning, I said to Bachelor number 2, "Bachelor number 2, you're the world's first rock and roll preacher. Let me hear your sermon, and keep preaching until I stop you." Number 2 replied, "Okay, I want all you people to come up and give me all your money." I said, "what are you going to do with all that money." He said he was going to buy liquor with it and I asked him what my share was going to be. When he said half, I decided to choose him.

As soon as the time was up, they flashed really bright lights in my face, blasted loud music, turned me around and asked me immediately who I was going to pick. They really don't want you cheating, even on The Dating Game. There was no way there were going to give me any opportunity for coaching by the audience. Fortunately, I had already decided on number 2. When they cut back from the commercial break and Jim Lange said, "so, Jackie, have you decided who you're going to pick?" I had to resist the urge to say, "Of course, you !@!$!$%!, you made me pick him as soon as the questioning was over!" I said number 2 and then came the part where I got to meet the guys I didn't pick.

Bachelor number 1 turned out to be a John Travolta Saturday Night Fever clone (who hit on me later backstage), and Bachelor number 3 was your average nice guy surfer/ski dude. Then came the big moment. Jim Lange said "so, are you ready to meet your date?" and I said "no"! Jim gave me a dirty look and forced out a big, phony, "heh, heh, heh -- well, let me tell you something about him." The guy came out, and he was a cute, blonde guy. I figured I had picked the "right" guy. Then we found out we'd won a date to Palm Springs and I'd won a Normal Kamali bathing suit (which I never got). After that, we got to go backstage and watch the second game together.

Before I tell you about the second game, the guy I picked was an actor named John Laughlin, who would go on to star in a number of pictures, including Ken Russell's Crimes of Passion. Kathleen Turner starred in the movie as a clothing designer who is a streetwalker by night. Anthony Perkins was in it as the truly bizarre preacher who tries to save her from her life of sin, and my date, John, played the guy who falls in love with her and finds out her secret. Truly a strange movie which is considered a sort of cult classic.



The key art for Crimes of Passion

I actually went on a real date with John before our Dating Game date was scheduled to happen. We went to the Hong Kong Cafe to see Phil Seymour's band. Phil had been the drummer for Dwight Twilley (I'm on Fire), and Skyhill Publishing represented him for songwriting. As I recall, I had also invited Robin Williams to the show and he was there flirting with all the waitresses. Anyway, when it came time to go on the actual date to Palm Springs, John wasn't available, so I invited a friend of mine who worked at Licorice Pizza Records. This friend of mine was about 6'5" tall and really skinny. We had to go with a chaperone and I had to room with her. The real kicker, though, was that the show had sent us for a weekend at The Palms in Palm Springs, which was a high end fat farm. Now they call them spas, but in the early '80's, such places catered to overweight clientele. Food at the hotel was included, but the menu called for something like 800 calories a day, and both of us were stick thin. The chaperone finally felt sorry for us and took us out to eat on her own dime. All in all, a disappointing weekend.

But back to game number 2.

The woman asking the questions in the second game went out, they introduced her to her bachelors and she started asking her questions. Bachelors numbers 1 and 3 were pretty normal guys, but number 2 was really strange-looking and had a really high, odd voice. He was, however, hilariously funny, and John and I started telling each other that she had to pick him. Even though he was really weird, she couldn't resist how funny he was and she picked Bachelor number 2. When Jim Lange brought him out, he introduced him as Peewee Herman. It was one of Paul Reubens' earliest television appearances as Peewee and I will never forget being on the same show as him.



Peewee Herman


My date may have been a disaster, but Peewee was a hit.

On a final note, The Dating Game did give me an opportunity for some minor revenge on an old boyfriend. As you may have realized from the fact that the bookers had quotas, it was a real challenge getting in enough perky, interesting people to pick contestants for the show, especially the men since there were usually 6 per show. So when we went in for our taping, they would ask us to fill out a list of men who we thought would make good contestants that they could call. I put my ex-boyfriend's name and number on the list with a big star next to it, figuring he'd get pissed off when they called him. About half a year later, a friend of mine called me up and said they'd seen him on the show! I saw a rerun of it shortly after that and it was hysterical. My ex-boyfriend, Dirk, was the lead singer of an early pretty-boy band named Virgin. Virgin opened a tour for Sean Cassidy and was featured in a lot of magazines like 16 and Teen which catered to young girls. Which was really funny considering that in reality, they were a bunch of bad boy rockers. The girl who was asking questions on his show was definitely not his type. At one point she sang her "theme song" -- a big, Broadway number like "I Love a Parade" or something similar and not very rock and roll. Then she called on Dirk and asked him to sing his theme song. Without missing a beat, Dirk blurted out "Hot Legs!" and, of course, she picked him. I think he was horrified.

So I may never have gotten my Norma Kamali bathing suit, but I did get to be on a show with Peewee and my ex-boyfriend ended up on the date from hell.

July 14, 2000 -- I Can't Talk to French Boys and Other Pop Atrocities

Someone recently sent me an e-mail and asked about a demo tape I recorded in the '80's. While this isn't strictly speaking a Runaways' story, I thought I'd make the tale of how the demo came to be this week's story as it's rather a long one and I know people are curious.

Disclaimer -- It's a really bad demo tape. Trust me. I used to listen to demo tapes for a living. Actually, now that I think about it, compared to most demos from that era, it's pretty good. But in the grand scheme of things, it's pretty bad. So don't even think about it, okay? You're not getting a copy.

This story begins in Los Angeles one early morining in 1978. I had left my job doing promotion for Ariola Records some 4 or 5 months earlier, and was still looking for another promo gig. I was in the middle of an interview with the head of promotion for ABC records, when his phone rang, in spite of the fact that he'd asked his assistant to hold his calls. He picked up the phone, and listened for a minute or so. Then he hung up the phone, reached into his drawer, pulled out a couple of airline tickets, slid them across the desk to me and said "Want to go to Atlanta?" At my look of confusion, he told me that he was supposed to go to Atlanta after interviewing me to see Tom Petty, who recorded for ABC, open for the Kinks, but that ABC had just been sold and so, did I want his tickets? I figured what the hell -- Tom Petty had opened for the Runaways before and the Kinks had the same road manager, Tony Gibbons, that we had had on our British tour, so I'd go and somehow manage to get in to the show. So I borrowed the guy's phone and called up Ariola Records' Atlanta promotion guy, who I'd worked with when I was at Ariola, and asked him if he wanted to go the show. He said he did, so I arranged for him to pick me up at the Atlanta airport, then I tracked down Tony in Atlanta and got us passes and tickets. I went straight to the airport from my interview.

The Kinks/Tom Petty show was great, and since there was a big radio convention going on in Atlanta, we got invited to a big party at the hotel after the show. At the party, I ran into Tom Petty and asked him to tell me when he was drunk so that I could ask him a favor. Tom is the nicest guy in the world -- about an hour later he came up to me and said he was drunk and what could he do for me? I told him I wanted him to write me a song to do as a solo performer, and he said he was into it and I should find him later to work out a time to get together. Right about then, however, I realized that I hadn't bothered to make arrangements to stay overnight in Atlanta, and my flight out wasn't until about noon the next day. So I tracked down Tony, and he said Ray Davies had an extra bed in his room and would put me up for the night. Talk about a surreal day! I went into ABC at 9:00 A.M. looking for a job and by midnight was in Atlanta crashing in Ray Davies' room -- and you can wipe your dirty minds clean, there's nothing nasty in this story. But Ray wanted to go to sleep right away so I had to leave before I could track Tom Petty down and talk to him about a song. I came back to L.A. the next day and forgot about it.

A few months later, I got a call from my friend Hernando (see Story of the Week for June 2, 2000) who said that he had received a call from a friend of his, a music publisher named Danny, and that there was a guy named Gary at Skyhill Publishing who wanted me to call him. I called Gary, and it turned out that Skyhill published the Tom Petty song catalogue, and that Tom Petty had gone into Gary's office, told him I was looking for a song, and asked him to track me down and play me the catalogue. Like I said -- Tom Petty is the nicest guy in the world, and he went out of his way to try to accommodate my request. I went in and met with Gary, who played me all the songs that Tom Petty had recorded as demos, but had never recorded for an album. I didn't find anything I thought was right for me, but Gary was so impressed with my take on the songs that he offered me a job, which I accepted.

My official title at Skyhill Publishing and Tarka Music (for you music publishing geeks, the first was the BMI-affiliated company, the second was ASCAP-affiliated) was "professional manager." What that meant was that I was supposed to find recording artists to cover the songs in our catalogues. As Skyhill/Tarka had the catalogues for Tom Petty, Leon Russell, Dwight Twilley and Phoebe Snow, among others, I thought that sounded like a pretty cool job. I also had to listen to demo tapes, go out to clubs and look for new acts to sign, and transcribe lyrics for lyric sheets. But mostly, I was supposed to get our songs covered and that turned out to be harder than it sounds. I would camp outside the offices of record company execs and when their secretaries walked away from their desks I would go over and pick up their recording studio schedules and see which acts were recording in what studios. Then I would drive over with a bunch of song demos and try to foist them off on the producer. One day, I took a tape to Leo Sayer's producer, David Courtney, who turned out to be very cool and actually invited me to stay for the recording. The engineer, Dave Leonard, was also very cool and spent some time showing what he was doing on the sound board. I found it so interesting that I called him up a few weeks later and asked him if he would teach me how to run the board. He agreed, and I went in for a lesson.

I wouldn't say I was hopeless as a sound engineer, but I wasn't very good either. It wasn't Dave's fault -- he's a grammy winning producer who has worked on records for Toto, Hall and Oates and Prince -- but I just couldn't get the hang of it. My lesson gave me an opportunity to get to know Dave a little better, though, and when I finally got around to wanting to record a solo demo, I asked Dave to engineer it. Dave agreed, and even managed to get me free studio time at a 24-track studio where he was working. In the early '80's, this was a really big deal, as virtually no one had home studios and 24-track rooms rented out for hundreds of dollars an hour. Free studio time meant, however, recording at 3:00 in the morning, or whenever the last band had gone home. That wasn't so bad, but it also meant that you had to find musicians who could be available at the last minute and weren't working. And, of course, I needed a producer.

In the early '80's my sister was good friends with Dana Strum, a bass player who would go on to play with Ozzy and with Slaughter. At the time he was in a band called Modern Design, and he and the guys in his band offered to help me out. I had written a song, inspired by my trip to France the year before, called I Can't Talk to French Boys, and I wanted to do a danceable cover of Tommy Roe's Dizzy, which had been a top 40 hit when I was a little girl (an audio clip of Tommy Roe's original version can be heard by clicking here and then clicking on Dizzy). Dave managed to come up with some 3:00 A.M. studio time for me during the middle of the week, and my biggest worry was the drums -- studio set up for the remaining instruments is really quick, but it takes a long time to set up a drum kit and each drum and cymbal has to be individually miked and given its own track. It takes up a lot of time and a lot of tracks, and then you have to mix the drums down to free up the tracks for the other instruments and vocals. So Dana decided we should use a drum machine.

Dana Strum

Linn drum machines had just come out and it was really expensive to rent them, but Dana managed to finagle one. The plan was to meet at my Mom's house earlier in the evening and program the two songs with Modern Design's drummer, but Dana didn't show up until about midnight and so we only had a couple of hours to program two complete songs, and none of us had ever used a drum machine before. Somehow, we managed to get things done, but there are a couple of places where Dana and the drummer went way overboard with the fills and it was too late for me to get them all out. Miraculously, every musician but the keyboard player showed up. I was disappointed by not having a keyboard player, as I really wanted a Kim Wilde Kids in America type synthesizer riff, but we managed to record a couple of good tracks with just guitar, bass (Dana played) and drum machine. We even had time for me to record the vocals, lead and backing, for French Boys, although I was never really happy with the way Dana recorded the lead vocal. There was a trick a lot of bands used in the '80's for vocals, which was to slow down the track and sing in the resulting lower key. This was good for high notes a singer was having trouble hitting, or to give the vocal more "punch" which is why Dana wanted to use it. When the track is sped back up, the vocal is compressed. In my case, I thought it made me sound like Minnie Mouse but once it was done there wasn't time to redo it. In fact there wasn't time to do the vocals for Dizzy, so Dave found me some additional studio time for the following week and I went in with Dave to record the vocals for Dizzy and to mix both tracks.

The recording of the Dizzy vocals was really strange. The basketball playoffs were on and Dave really wanted to watch them, so he set up a mike for me in the control room and showed me how to punch my own vocals in and out. I recorded the lead and backing vocals in a studio all by myself! When the game ended, Dave and I sat down to mix the two tracks starting with French Boys. There are very few set rules in making albums, but one fundamental rule is that you start every mix from scratch, that is, when you finish mixing a song, you reset all the controls to zero and start all over. Unfortunately, that doesn't always work when you're stealing studio time, and since we had put the instruments and vocals on the same tracks for both songs, we were able to mix Dizzy at pretty much the same levels. It probably would have worked well had it not been the middle of the night and had we not spent so much time working on the previous song. While it isn't a bad mix, it's hard to hear the backing vocals and it could have been a lot better. But, nevertheless, I still ended up with two professionally engineered 24 track songs and I was pretty happy.

Of course, demo tapes usually have at least 3 or 4 songs.

I needed more studio time and felt like I couldn't impose on Dave or Dana again. So a friend put me in touch with Jim Saad, who had a 16-track studio in Atwater. Jim was a great guy who helped me out with the rest of my tracks. For the remainder of the songs, I used an assorted group of talented musician friends -- Mark Anthony on bass, Roger Romeo (from Legs Diamond) on guitar, and Bobbyzio Moore (the brother of Freddy Moore, Demi Moore's ex-husband, who in one of those great coincidences ended up starring in the movie Parasite, an early Alien knock-off, with Demi Moore and Cherie Currie) on sax. Again, I managed to get ahold of a drum machine so we could avoid a timely drum set up. And once again, the keyboard player I'd recruited didn't show up for the sessions. Fortunately (?) Roger had a synthesizer in his car and we used it on some of the tracks. We recorded three songs -- You're a Distraction, a pop reggae number about an unrequited attraction to a co-worker, Where Do Rich Boys Go on Saturday Night?, a pop rockabilly song, and a ballad, Number Two Girl. These 3 songs, plus I Can't Talk to French Boys and Dizzy, made it onto my final demo tape, which sparked a lot of record company and publisher interest, but ultimately no deal. An A&R guy from Columbia records offered to get me studio time at the Record Plant to remix French Boys and Dizzy, but between dropping the masters off at the Record Plant and actually getting into the studio, the exec got fired, supposedly for putting too much of his artists' recording budgets up his nose. And no one at the Record Plant could ever figure out what name he'd had the masters stored under. The masters are still missing to this day, and it's unlikely they'll ever be found as the Record Plant no longer exists at its original location.

Legs Diamond, with Roger Romeo, second from right

In addition to the 5 songs that made it onto my "official" demo tape, I recorded a few other demos for fun. The first was a live rehearsal tape with the guys who'd recorded the 16 track songs with me. I don't remember all the songs we did on it, but two of them were Pretty, Young and Stupid and Rise to the Occasion, a suggestive funk number whose words were inspired by the success of Prince in the early '80's -- I figured I could write dirty lyrics as easily as Prince, but I'd never managed to write any music to go with it. The guys started a really cool funk jam while I was in the bathroom, and when I came out I started singing my lyrics over it and we ended up with a totally awesome live recording of it. Unfortunately, the only copy of that tape got lost years ago.

While I was working at Skyhill/Tarka, I had made friends with Noah Shark and Max, the record producers who did Tom Petty's first album and had a studio next door. I turned them on to Freddy Moore's band, The Kats, a great L.A. band who became local favorites with songs like Lost My T.V. Guide. I also introduced The Kats to a woman named Daphna Edwards, who had just started her own record label, and she ended up signing them to do an album with Noah and Max. While they were in the studio recording their album, Get Modern, Freddy wrote a song for me called Can't Stand Dancing, which had a very Elvis Costello kind of feel to it, and Noah and Max produced it with the Kats playing on it. I think I have a two-track mix of that song somewhere, although I haven't heard it in years.



Freddy and Demi Moore


Get Modern album cover


Plastic Facts album cover
Freddy Moore is 2d from left,
Bobbyzio Moore is on right


DVD cover of Parasite

Finally, I recorded two songs on Mark Anthony's home studio. The first song was a fluffy, Beatles-esque pop tune I'd written that was called I Saw Him Today. To make it even more Beatles-y, Mark had his upstairs neighbor, who had starred in the touring company of Beatlemania, play all the instruments. The resulting demo sounds like a female version of the Beatles, down to the Nowhere Man style harmonies. Unfortunately, there are no existing tapes of this song either. The only demo I still have from the Mark Anthony sessions is the last song I ever recorded, Strike One to the Heart, which only contains a so-called scratch vocal, recorded along with the instruments while I had the flu, for the sole purpose of setting the tempo. The vocal was always supposed to be redone, but Mark ended up selling his equipment and it never got finished. Like all the demos I recorded, it's really obvious it was done in the '80's. If you ever find a copy, please burn it!

August 4, 2000 -- Queens of Noise

.
This week one of you sent in a question involving recording sessions for Queens of Noise. Since there is no quick answer, I'd thought I'd make it the story of the week, and give you the scoop on a song by song basis.



Queens of Noise cover (from the Japanese CD reissue).
The smoke was really thick and this shot was taken
at the last moment before we all started choking.
On the the original cover, it's really easy to see
Joan and Cherie starting to squint from the smoke.
This shot was originally going to be the back cover,
but I asked them to put it on the front because I
thought it would draw more attention in an lp display
rack and that it would ruin the shot to have writing on it.
The record company agreed, and switched the front and back covers.

In the 1970's, most bands were contractually obligated to deliver two albums per year to the record company. So our second album came hot on the heels of the first, but even then our relationship with Kim Fowley was souring and the mutual decision was made to bring in a different day to day producer. Kim selected Earle Mankey, who was best known for engineering albums by The Beach Boys, to act as both engineer and producer, although Kim remained involved on a periodic basis and took first position producing credit. We recorded the album at Brothers Studio, The Beach Boys' studio in Santa Monica, California.

Because Kim wasn't around to babysit, we ended up doing a lot of our own producing, which is why, in my opinion, Queens of Noise is not a very good album. Our idea of producing was pretty much to turn our own instrument up as loud as possible. Sandy refused to play to a click track (a steady background click that a drummer listens to through the headphones to help her keep the beat and which is eliminated in the final mix) and, as a result, a lot of songs have uneven tempo. The beat on most of the songs is plodding, and we just tried too hard to make things fancy. Kim Fowley was a jerk, but on our first album he understood one fundamental point -- keep in simple. The Runaways wasn't a fancy album, but we were kept on a tight leash and it sounds clean. Good, bad-girl fun. There is only one song on the first album I really don't like (Lovers, with the lame whispering and hackeyed chord changes, in spite of its one great line, make me scream, hey! what's your name?), and it's a pretty mild dislike. I'm not crazy about Blackmail either, but at least it was fun to play. There are four songs, however, on Queens of Noise that I absolutely hate, and of the songs I like, none are favorites. All in all, a disappointing sophomore effort.

Note: In the special thanks section of the album cover, the first person thanked is Ronnie Fox. That was a thank you to my mother, whose real last name is Fuchs, but I didn't want anyone to figure out my last name so I made the band print it as Fox. We singled my mother out for thanks because she came on our English tour with us which meant we didn't have to have a social worker, plus my mom got along great with the rest of the band and kept us out of serious trouble without ever getting in our way or being uncool.

On to the songs.

Queens of Noise

This song caused the single biggest fight I can recall in the band. Billy Bizeau, who played for Kim Fowley's other band, The Quick, wrote Queens of Noise and submitted it to Kim Fowley. Cherie claimed Billy had written it for her. But Joan insisted on singing lead on the song, and the band backed her. Cherie showed up one day and the vocals were already done -- Joan on lead, me on backup. Cherie was furious. We didn't re-record the vocals for the album, but Cherie made such a stink about it that we reached a compromise for our live performances -- Cherie would sing the first verse, and Joan would sing the second verse with me on backup. This is the version that appears on the Live in Japan album. Joan had shared lead vocal duties with Cherie on the first album, but by the recording of our second album the problem had grown chronic, as Joan was singing lead on half the songs. The song Queens of Noise brought the issue to a head, as Cherie felt that Joan had stolen her song.

Note: I always felt incrediby stupid singing this song live. It just felt so demeaning singing the line "come and get it boys."

Take It or Leave It

This is one of my least favorite Runaways songs. The beat is plodding, the lyrics are weak (Joan was trying too hard to write a Suzi Quatro-type song) and the drum and lead guitar sounds are really cheesy (the reverb went to 11). I never liked this song on record and it wasn't much fun to play live. Plus it was another song that our lead singer didn't sing, and even when I most disliked Cherie, I never thought it was right that the lead singer should have to stand around doing nothing for almost half the songs.

Midnight Music

I came down with pneumonia about halfway through recording Queens of Noise. Some of the other band members and I had gone to the Starwood one night to see a KROQ radio show featuring local bands, including some friends of ours. Rodney Bingenheimer emceed the show. About halfway through the show, I realized I couldn't breathe. By the next day, I had to be hospitalized and missed about three days of recording. When I got back, the band had recorded four songs without me, one of which was Midnight Music (the others were C'Mon and Hollywood Dreaming, which I'll discuss below, and Strawberry Fields, which as I've said before was to me an inexplicable choice). The music had been written by a local songwriter named Steven T, and Kim had written the lyrics. The song was originally titled Heavy Metal Music, but it was a silly title given how mellow the song was so Kim changed it. Cherie got a songwriting credit, although I never did figure out exactly what she contributed. I think Lita played bass on the original track when I was in the hospital, but when I got back I recorded over it. None of us except Cherie liked the song at the time. It certainly wasn't a Runaways song -- Cherie had been insisting on doing something more melodic and we hated how middle of the road the song was and the breathy vocals and "talked" vocals Cherie did. In fact, we hated the song so much that Lita gave me one of the greatest compliments she ever paid me when she said that the only good thing about the song was my bass part.

I recently listened to this album again and Midnight Music is actually one of the better songs on the album (although I still cringe when Cherie "talks" the line singing rock and roll songs toward the end). But we really viewed ourselves as a rock band, and this song just didn't fit in with that view.

Note: This was one of the few songs on the album on which I recorded my bass part straight into the mixing board and, along with C'Mon, the only song on which my bass parts were recorded after the other instruments. On most of the songs, I played through an Ampeg guitar amp, which had smaller speakers than a bass amp and gave my bass a punchier sound. It's not necessarily a better sound, but it is easier to hear the bass parts than it was on the first album, and that was the point.

Born to Be Bad

This song is almost as embarassing as Johnny Guitar. Only its inherent cheesiness prevents it from being utter crap. I remember turning my amp up to ten so it bordered on constant feedback to give the bass more edge. Big mistake, but no one said anything. During the recording of the lead vocals, Joan was drinking Jack Daniels. Kim Fowley wrote the lyrics, which included the lines I want you to bring me his ears, to satisfy my mad desires, and if he bites the dust, he'll have to miss my fire. It was pretty obvious to me that this was a Vietnam war reference, but Joan didn't recognize this, and she was pretty drunk by the time she got to this part. Joan said that the line made her think of the bums in the bowery, and she started crying when she was singing it. If you listen closely, you can hear a sob at the beginning of Lita's guitar solo. Earle didn't punch her vocal mike out in time, and he decided to leave the sob in the final mix.

Neon Angels On the Road to Ruin

Midnight Music was our concession to Cherie's melodic desires. Neon Angels was our concession to Lita's heavy metal ones. This song has yet another set of Kim Fowley lyrics, including the opening line tribute to the Doors, no one here gets out alive. Lita wrote the intro and chorus music, and I wrote the verse music -- in other words, my contribution to the song was essentially "hold an 'E' chord." Cherie hated doing this song live because the high notes were a bitch to hit night after night. Kind of funny that she picked Neon Angel as the title for her autobiography. This is one of the four songs on the album that I don't like, although I don't dislike it as much as I dislike the other three. The chorus is good, but the intro is silly and the verses are akward, as is the transition from the drum solo back to the intro riff.

Note: I've written about how the loyalties and friendships in the band were constantly changing, but I'd have to say that over the course of my year and a half with the band, I was probably the most friendly with Lita. As I'm writing this week's story, it has really come to me that Lita and I were probably the closest during the recording of Queens of Noise. In any event, we seem to have spent a lot of time together in the studio without the other girls. Lita and I were in the control room with Earle one day listening to a playback of her guitar solo on Neon Angels, when Cherie came in and wanted to add some vocals to the beginning of the song. Cherie was always trying to throw falsetto "oohs" and "aahs" into the songs, and she wanted very badly to make this song more melodic. So Earle sets up a mic for her in the control room, and starts the track. At the end of the intro, Cherie starts singing a high, falsetto "oooh" "aaah." It was terrible. I didn't want to say anything (although I was terrified Earle would let Cherie talk him into leaving it in), but Lita, God bless her, looked over at Cherie and screamed, What are we, in f***ing church!?!??! A classic moment. And the ooh aah came out.

I Love Playin' With Fire

There was a band in the '70's called the Hollywood Stars, that Kim Fowley had worked with. One of the band's members, Mark Anthony, wrote a song for us called Born to Burn. The chorus lyrics were 'cause you were born to burn, and I love playing with fire, you were born to burn, yeah you kindle my desire. We learned and rehearsed it a few times, but we didn't really like it and dropped it. Joan liked the second line of the chorus, however, and built a new song around it, which we all liked quite a bit better. You can hear that Kim Fowley's lyric writing had influenced Joan by the time she wrote this song -- your eyes are sparkling' with teenage fire is pure Fowley. This song was always a lot of fun to play. Like all the songs on the album except Midnight Music and C'Mon, the drums, bass and rhythym guitar tracks were all recorded "live," i.e., at the same time and with us having each other in sight (although not in the same room because we didn't want the instruments to "bleed" into the other tracks). Vocals and lead guitar solos and riffs were recorded later. For I Love Playin' With Fire, Lita recorded her solo directly into the mixing board instead of playing through a mic'd amplifier. Earle Mankey and I were the only ones in the control room with Lita when she played her solo. Lita had an idea in mind but was having trouble getting her lead exactly the way she wanted. She played something I thought was really cool, but when I tried telling her, at first she thought I was criticizing her and started screaming at me. So I started screaming louder, trying to get her to understand that what she was doing was awesome. It was really funny -- there we were screaming at each other, when all of a sudden it hit Lita that I was telling her she was playing something great. She got this really confused look on her face, and looked over to Earle to see if he agreed. When he too told her it sounded good, she got into the groove and nailed it in a few takes. I think her solo on this song is one of her best.

Note: The band and assorted friends (including Rodney Bingenheimer) gathered around one mic in the studio to record the hand claps that accompany the first verse. I think it took more time to record the hand claps than the entire rest of the song because everyone, especially Rodney, had such a hard time keeping to the beat. Someone was off on every take. It was really pathetic.

California Paradise

I don't remember why we didn't record this song on our first album. It was one of the earlier songs the Runaways did and the only song on Queens of Noise that was written before I joined the band. I think it's probably the best song on the album, in spite of the excess reverb on the drums which made the track sound dated even back when we recorded it. It's not, however, one of my favorite Cherie vocals, but then nothing on this album was. Don't get me wrong -- I think Cherie has a great voice which has only gotten better over the years, but on this album she was trying way too hard and it didn't suit her. I strongly prefer the version of this song on the Live In Japan album.

Note: When I auditioned for the band, California Paradise was one of the songs I learned. Lita had been the one person who hadn't wanted me in the band, so I complimented her on her guitar solo, which I thought was really good. Only later did I realize that the part I had liked the best was the first portion of the break which is actually played by Joan.

Hollywood

I've already recounted the story of this song in the Q and A section of the site (Q and A WIth Jackie, Page 1) so I won't repeat it here.

Heartbeat

This was originally a song called Joey that Lita and I wrote together. Lita and I had written the music, and I wrote the lyrics as a mock love song to Joey Ramone. When we recorded the track, the song was still Joey. I was the only (at the time) singing member of the band who hadn't sung lead on a song, and I really wanted to do the lead vocal on this one. Cherie, who'd already lost lead singing duties to Joan on almost half the songs, wasn't happy about this, so Kim decided that Cherie and I should sing it together (much the same way that Joan and Cherie shared the lead on Thunder on the first album). But whereas Joan's voice and my voice blended so well together that I still have difficulty telling us apart on Hollywood, Cherie's voice and mine didn't blend well at all and it was a really frustrating experience. We gave up for the day and decided to try it again the following day. Only when I arrived at the studio the next day, I discovered that Cherie had done unto me as Joan had done unto her -- she, Kim and Earle has rewritten the song as a love song to David Bowie and Cherie and Joan had recorded the vocals. But I got my revenge in Boston (Story of the Week, May 12, 2000).

Johnny Guitar

Without a question the single worst song the Runaways ever did. Why anyone thought that five teenage girls could play the blues is beyond me. Although this song did lead to the best inadvertent compliment I've ever been paid. A critic, in writing a scathing review of this song, stated that the bass line was a direct rip-off of Led Zeppelin's Dazed and Confused. Only I'd never heard the song at the time. So I was happy about that particular bad review.

And yes... that is Lita groaning on the song.

The back cover for Queens of Noise (from the Japanese CS re-issue)

Hollywood Dreamin'

This was the song that made Midnight Music sound like Motorhead. It was another Steven T song that he had written for Cherie and her melodic desires. Because I was in the hospital when it was recorded, Steven T played the bass part. Lita flatly refused to play on this song, as did I when I got back to the studio. This song generated a true band rebellion. No one but Cherie wanted it on the album, and the rest of us made sure it got taken off and stayed off. I had lost the battle to get Kim to let us record I Love Rock and Roll, and I wasn't going to let this middle of the road teen fantasy (they tell me I'm too young to dream, but I've seen the pictures in your magazines) take its place. Fortunately, this time the rest of the band felt the same way. I think the song finally ended up on the embarassingly-titled Flaming Schoolgirls, an album that mysteriously appeard on a label called Cherry Red Records along with other songs recorded for Queens of Noise (including Hollywood Cruisin') and for which I never received a single royalty accounting. Our record company swears they have no knowledge of the record and didn't authorize it. But someone gave Cherry Red masters owned by our record company. Bad someone.

C'Mon

This song has my favorite back story of all Runaways songs. Unfortunately for you I won't disclose it here because I firmly believe that each Runaway should have the right to tell about her own personal life (love, sex, drugs, etc.) if and when she feels like it, and none of us should tell those stories for anyone else. So, I guess that opening sentence was just a big tease. Oh well.

When I got back from the hospital, this song had been recorded but there was no bass track. I plugged my bass straight into the board, figuring it wouldn't take long to record my part. I usually got my track on the first or second take. But the drumming on the track for C'Mon is heavily syncopated and it was really off. It took me a couple of hours to get my bass to match Sandy's drums. I wasn't there when it was recorded, so I don't know what happened, but Sandy has obviously had an off day and no one had noticed or been able to do anything about it. As I recall, there had been various things that had slowed recording down. My being in the hospital, someone spilling a can of coke into the mixing board, things that cost us a half day here, three hours there. Probably no one wanted a further delay that would push us over budget, so they just lived with the off-tempo track. I finally got my part down, and it was covered up by more cheezy overprocessed guitar. This is actually a fun song to perform live, and live we made it work great. But the studio version blows. Cherie splits up the last syllable in every line the exact same way --your eyes are wide with anticipa-shu-hun, gonna get involved in a flaming rela-sha-hun. The version on Live In Japan is much better. The original version didn't make it onto Queens of Noise at least in part because I threatened to leave the band if that song appeared on the album, and enough people realized I meant it. It never saw the light of day until Mercury released a cd reissue of Best of the Runaways and by then I was long gone. The lp version of this album was created when Joan first became successful, and only featured songs on which Joan sang lead. It didn't even have Cherry Bomb! When the cd re-issue came out, Cherry Bomb was wisely put on along with bonus track C'Mon. Which still blows.