Classic Tracks: The Runaways "Cherry Bomb"

Jan 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Barbara Schultz


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So it doesn't sound like Fidelity's gear was actually sub-par — it would have been quite a nicely equipped 16-track studio in its time. Whatever the reason, the studio was the perfect environment for The Runaways to unleash their five-girl rock rebellion.

“Kim Fowley was a visionary,” says Ripp, whose 40-plus-year résumé includes producing hits from the Shangri La's to the Lovin' Spoonful to Billy Joel and so many others. “He was creative, demanding, energetic and he understood he was dealing with something new. He wasn't making a Xerox. He encouraged the freedom and creativity and energy that he knew the girls had; they were young, they were impressionable, and they were teenaged girls connected with their experience of being girls playing in a guy's world.”

Ripp sold Fidelity Recording in 2002 to Tom Weir, who renamed it Studio City Sound. The studio has remained busy and recently hosted Exene Cervenka of X, recording a cover of “Cherry Bomb.”

In addition to continuing to produce, record, perform and write music, Fowley has a weekly program that's part of Little Steven's “Underground Garage” on Sirius/XM satellite radio. He's also been consulting with the producers and actors who are working on a movie about The Runaways, set for release in June 2010. The film stars Michael Shannon as Fowley, Kristen Stewart as Jett and Dakota Fanning as Currie.

The real Cherie Currie left The Runaways after the band completed three albums (The Runaways, Queens of Noise and Live in Japan). She made more recordings, including an album with her twin sister, Marie Currie, and she has acted in films and TV shows. The band recorded two more albums after her departure, with Jett singing lead. Sandy West remained with the band till the bitter end; after they broke up in 1979, she continued to record and perform, and worked as a drum teacher. She was diagnosed with cancer 2005 and died the following year.

Bassist Jackie Fox left the band in 1977 and became a Harvard-educated attorney. Lita Ford went solo after The Runaways split, recording several successful hard-rock albums, including last year's Wicked Wonderland. Jett, of course, became the best-known graduate of The Runaways. She founded Blackheart Records with producer Kenny Laguna when she couldn't get a U.S. label deal for the debut album by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Her hits include “Bad Reputation,” “I Love Rock 'n' Roll,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and others. She continues to tour and record, and is one of the executive producers of the forthcoming Runaways biopic in which, rumor has it, the actresses portraying the bandmembers actually perform “Cherry Bomb” and other Runaways songs.

“A lot of the older stuff comes back, gets re-used or re-recorded,” Fowley says, “and I'm grateful for that, but I'm always interested in tomorrow. Each day I have a new song, and each new song is better than any song I've ever written.”

Many thanks to Joey Latimer for providing technical information and contacts related to this article.

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