The Runaways Formed on this Day, 1975

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 An autographed Runaways debut album at Rinkside Signatures is going for $799.

On August 5, 1975 — 42 years ago today — the Runaways were formed by guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West. Of course, the strange and often-controversial Los Angeles svengali Kim Fowley (1939-2015) was in the mix, introducing the two players and guiding the early formation, concept, development, and signing of the band to Mercury Records in 1976.

Initially, bassist Micki Steele (who later joined the Bangles) joined the duo as a power trio until Lita Ford was brought in as lead guitarist. Steele was fired — ultimately replaced by Jackie Fox — and Cherie Currie became the group's lead vocalist. The Jett-Ford-West-Currie-Fox quintet was the lineup for the band's debut album, The Runaways, although Fox did not join the studio sessions, and the bass parts on the recording were tracked by Nigel Harrison (who was Blondie's bassist, 1977-1982).

The Runaways were vastly influential to women musicians — as well as to men who were fans of their glam-rock-metal stylings — although they are sometimes erroneously credited as the first female rock band signed to a major-label recording contract. Three all-female bands beat them on that score: Goldie & the Gingerbreads (1964, Atlantic), The Pleasure Seekers (1968, Mercury), and Fanny (1970, Reprise).

That said, due to Fowley's incredible talents for myth-making and PR, it could arguably be put forth that the Runaways were one of the first female bands to really cause ripples across popular culture and the music-business community. 

Read Joan Jett's 1994 GP Interview

Hear Lita Ford on GP's No Guitar Is Safe podcast with Jude Gold

See the Runaways in action, performing "Cherry Bomb" in 1976

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