Monday, May 07, 2007

Punk Girl Groups -- Runaways Lead the Pack

double runaways

The Runaways were the first girl group I'd categorize as a punk rock band. They were from Los Angeles, and in 1975, formed their first line-up that included Kari Krome, a gifted rock n roll lyricist, whose tenure in the band would be cut short once the star-making-machinery started rolling.

Kim Fowley

That's Kim Fowley, the man who co-wrote several of the Runaways hits with Joan Jett, produced their records and crafted that star-route that won these girls international fame and notoreity.

In 1976, when The Runaways first album was released on Mercury Records, they were the first of the LA punk bands to be signed to a major label deal. They were ahead of their time...so many punk-influenced girl groups followed in their shadow. And that's a good thing.

For me, it was always Joan Jett who stood out as the one with the chops to make this rock n roll a lifetime thing. I think she's still the standard-bearer for any girl who wants to sling a guitar.

Joan Jett & Nigel Harrison

Here she is in 1977, with then-Blondie bassist, Nigel Harrison backstage at the Iggy Pop concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Blondie opened the show. The Runaways and Blondie had shared stages a bit by this point in their careers, and Joan endeared herself to just about everyone with her good-as-Keith Richards-rhythm guitar chops and her girl-next-door sweetness.

It doesn't take 20/20 hindsight to see how Joan Jett was the inadvertent good-will ambassador for LA punk rock. She was always a good neighbor, a gracious "hostess with the mostest," and her apartment on San Vicente was always hopping with visiting punk rockers.

The Dead Boys loved Joan, and Stiv always paid his respects when he was in town. Stiv and Joan would always pose for the required Creem magazine photo... you know, the kind that just asks for the irreverent caption.

In Joan Jett's Bedroom
This was indeed in Creem, as was the one below. Good Sport, Joan!

stiv irons joan

whos who at joans house small

You've seen my variations on the theme of Billy Idol partying at Joan's. Above is a key to who's who at the shindig.

Notice that Germs Darby Crash and Lorna Doom were there. Well, we were all pals back then, and you could say this was our particular Rat Pack...but generations in the future will remember that Joan Jett produced the Germs album, GI. GI is already a lasting memento of LA Punk, and stands as an important artefact of punk rock in general. If she did nothing else with her career, this would still give Joan Jett bold-face-name status.

darby live whiskyBWweb72
Darby Crash, live at the Whisky - and in one of those peculiarities of circumstance and 2 degrees of punk rock separation, this photo was taken the night that Kim Fowley recorded/produced the Germs live record

joan dead boys 1 small

Don't know if you can see her, on the left side of the frame in the photo above. Joan was a special guest with the latter day version of the Dead Boys at the Whisky A Go Go. She joined Stiv, Jimmy Zero, Johnny Blitz and the two replacement Dead Boys who would later anchor the Stiv Bators Band, and the Disconnected album - Frank Secich and George Cabaniss.

She's highlighted in the shot below. Check it out!

joan dead boys 2 small hi lite

This week, Punk Turns 30 salutes the girl groups and girls of punk rock, of whom our hometown heroine, Joan Jett is the true leader of the pack. More than just a rock-solid rhythm guitar ace who could hold her own against your favorites from Jonesy to Keef, she's a record producer, hard-working touring bandleader, and mentor to young rockers. Thanks Joan, for 30+ years of loving rock n roll (and for all the good times on San Vicente!)

THANKS to all the Runaways Fans who found Punk Turns 30 and shared this link with your Forum.

I'm running a SPECIAL on the photo below! Click it for details.
joan billy

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