The Runaways weren't the first all-girl rock band (there was Fanny, and even Debbie Harry, pre-Blondie, played in a group with her chick buddies called the Stilettos), but they certainly made the most noise, culturally speaking. Put together by Hollywood icon Kim Fowley, the unofficial mayor of the Sunset Strip, the band released several albums and undertook a handful of tours in the US, Europe and Japan. The thing that brought them notice--being an all-female outfit--was
also the very element that brought them down.
Author Evelyn McDonnell covers the slight rise and terrible fall of Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Marie Curie, Sandy West, and Jackie Fox. What unfolds here is a band that was more interesting offstage than they were on.
McDonnell (to her credit) pulls no punches in describing drug usage, in-fighting, and the alternate life styles many of the girls were following.
She explains how Fowley had the vision of an all-girl band and fulfilled that idea with the Runaways. But he brought it all crashing down when he pitted the women one against the other and simply couldn't get out of his own way.
The musicians' lives were documented in a film back in 2010, but even that couldn't do justice to the craziness that was truly a part of this band's career. To understand that, you need to read this. It pulls back the curtains on the façade that, seen from the outside, being in a rock and roll band would be the coolest gig in the world. But when the terrible underbelly is exposed, you realize how easily that dream disappears.