Throw on your leather jacket and your bad-gal knee-high boots, we’re talking the Runaways. When The Runaways formed in the late half of the 1970s, the world would not know what hit them. Raunchy but not trashy and free from all inhibitions, the all-girl group took the world by storm, unleashing a fierce, femme-fatale sound never before heard in the realm of rock-n-roll.
At the young ages of 16 and 17, Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, Sandy West and Jackie Fox emerged on the scene in 1976, debuting with their self-titled EP riddled with commanding riffs and gutsy vocals. The album was a slap in the face to the male-dominated hard rock scene, as if to say, “Wake up boys, the girls can rock out just as hard as you.”
“This album is for the young of age and the young at heart,” vocalist-guitarist Joan Jett writes inside the vinyl flap. “It’s for those who know it’s great to be young and who enjoy their youth in the best way they know how.”
A hearty mix of pop, hard rock and glam, the album opens with what would later become both a beloved classic and their signature song “Cherry Bomb.” The track would be an anthem for the restless, fun-seeking youth everywhere, with Ford’s riveting rhythm guitar and Currie’s powerful, unrestrained vocals.
“Hello world, I’m your wild girl,” Currie exclaims, followed by the classic line that would be uttered by many for years to come, “I’m your ch-ch-cherry bomb!”
The track quickly reached the number one spot on the Japanese and Scandinavian charts and would repeatedly emerge again throughout pop culture decades later, the most recent being on the soundtrack for the popular Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy.
Sensual, lusty classics like “You Drive Me Wild” and “Lovers” shamelessly exhibited the young girls’ sexuality with tantalizing lyrics, “I want something bad and nice – hot love,” Jett sings. “Make me scream, make it last!” she exclaims, a proclamation that girls can be just as sexual as the boys and a fact that intimidated both men and women at the time.
Despite merciless feedback from critics, the bad gals of The Runaways continued to rock on. They were ultimately unconcerned with the discomfort their music may have caused, their goal was to strip themselves of all inhibitions and relish in their youth.
“When you listen to these songs, you’ll be reminded of all the fun you’re having being and staying young,” Jett writes. “After all, people say these are the best years of our lives. Well, we know they are and we make every minute count.”