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The Members of the Runaways: A Look at the Hard-Rocking ’70s Girl Group’s Classic Lineup Then and Now

Catch up with Joan Jett, Lita Ford and more!

In the ’70s, there was no other band quite like the Runaways. Formed in Los Angeles in 1975 by impresario Kim Fowley, the band consisted entirely of tough teenage girls who sang and played their own songs.

While the Runaways only lasted from 1975 to 1979, and never quite reached the mainstream success of the macho bands that dominated the rock scene at the time, they had an outsize cultural influence thanks to their anthemic songs and defiant bad girl image, and they’d inspire many an all-girl band in their wake.

Best known for songs like “Cherry Bomb,” “Hollywood” and “Queens of Noise,” the Runaways showed that girls could just as hard (if not harder!) than guys, and launched the careers of rock trailblazers Joan Jett and Lita Ford.

The Runaways in the '70s
The members of the Runaways in the ’70sGetty

Sadly, the Runaways story, which should be one of girl power, has been tainted by scandal, as original bassist Micki Steele alleged that she was fired from the band before their first album because she refused Kim Fowley‘s sexual advances. Following Fowley’s death in 2015, bassist Jackie Fox said that she was abused by Fowley.

While it’s tragic that such abuse took place, the songs of the Runaways live on, and a new generation discovered the band thanks to a 2010 biopic about them starring Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett. The ladies still rock, and they made an important contribution to a musical history that was male-dominated for far too long. Here’s a look at the members of the Runaways then and now.

Joan Jett

Joan Jett in 1976 and 2023
Left: 1976; Right: 2023Getty

INSTRUMENT: Vocals and guitar

BORN: Joan Marie Larkin on September 22, 1958 in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

AFTER THE RUNAWAYS: Joan Jett had a successful career after the Runaways, and remains a rock icon. She released her debut solo album in 1980, which included “Bad Reputation” and “Do You Wanna Touch Me” and released her first album with her new band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, in 1981. The album featured her signature song, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts continued throughout the ’80s, ’90s and beyond, and have released 12 albums altogether. Their most recent album, Mindsets, came out in 2023. She’s had her own record label, Blackheart Records, since 1980. In 2015, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

PERSONAL: Jett has never married or had kids, and has always been coy when it came to rumors around her sexual orientation.

THOUGHTS ON THE RUNAWAYS: When the movie The Runaways was released, Jett told Interview Magazine, “I was always pretty resistant to both a Runaways reunion or just any sort of movie situation. I guess I was afraid that the only thing that could happen is that things could go wrong. Maybe it was a way to protect it for myself because the Runaways was so special to me and meant so much, beyond just girls playing rock ‘n’ roll. I think it represented a lot to me about following your dreams, about not being dictated to about what your life is going to be.”

Lita Ford

Lita Ford in 1976 and 2024
Left: 1976; Right: 2024Getty

INSTRUMENT: Guitar

BORN: September 19, 1958 in London, England

AFTER THE RUNAWAYS: Lita Ford released her debut solo album, Out for Blood, in 1983. Her most successful album, Lita, from 1988, featured the hit singles “Close My Eyes Forever” and “Kiss Me Deadly.” Her most recent album, Time Capsule, came out in 2016. She’s considered one of the most legendary women in heavy metal.

PERSONAL: Ford has been married twice, to guitarist Chris Holmes and singer Jim Gillette. They have two sons, James and Rocco, and divorced in 2011.

THOUGHTS ON THE RUNAWAYS: In an interview looking at the legacy of the members of the Runaways, Ford said, “I feel like the Runaways were the ones that really opened the door for females in music, and myself being the lead guitarist, even more so because singers are singers — nobody gets looked at for being a singer. ‘Oh she sings, great.’ But when she plays guitar with balls and attitude, people look around the room and say, ‘Where’s that noise coming from?’ even when they’re looking right at it! It still doesn’t register. So they look for it.”

Cherie Currie

Cherie Currie in 1976 and 2022
Left: 1976; Right: 2022Getty

INSTRUMENT: Lead vocals

BORN: November 30, 1959 in Encino, California

AFTER THE RUNAWAYS: Cherie Currie released her first solo album, Beauty’s Only Skin Deep, in 1978. In 1980, she and her twin sister, Marie Currie, recorded an album together, Messin’ with the Boys. Her most recent solo album, The Motivator, came out in 2019.

Curie also acted in the 1980 coming-of-age movie Foxes. Sadly, she struggled with addiction, and in the ’80s she became an addiction counselor. In the ’00s, she started making wood sculptures with chainsaws. (Yep, you read that right!)

PERSONAL: Currie was married to actor Robert Hays from 1990 to 1997. They have a son, Jake Hays, who is now a musician.

THOUGHTS ON THE RUNAWAYS: Looking back at the music of the Runaways in an interview with The Guardian, Currie said, “I never get tired of doing those Runaways songs. My mind is still that young girl up on stage, only a lot wiser. I really enjoy it.”

Jackie Fox

Jackie Fox in 1976 and 2022
Left: 1976; Right: 2022Getty

INSTRUMENT: Bass

BORN: Jacqueline Louise Fuchs on December 20, 1959 in Los Angeles, California

AFTER THE RUNAWAYS: Jackie Fox, who now goes by Jackie Fuchs, stopped playing music after leaving the Runaways. She worked various jobs, and has been a record promotions executive and a model agent. She most recently worked as an attorney, and is currently a game designer. Her board game Rock Hard: 1977 will be out later this year.

In 2018, Fuchs competed on Jeopardy!, winning $87,000 over four days of competition on the game show. She’s also been on The Dating Game, The Chase and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

PERSONAL: Fuchs never married or had kids. She was in the news in 2015 due to her allegations of sexual abuse by Runaways manager Kim Fowley.

THOUGHTS ON THE RUNAWAYS: In a Variety interview during her Jeopardy! run, Fuchs admitted that she purposefully didn’t want to reveal she was one of the members of the Runaways until she’d been a reigning winner on the show for three days, saying, “It’s so easy to have that define who I am. And I just didn’t want to be that person who goes on TV and says, ‘I was in the Runaways!’ Because it overshadows everything else that I’ve done in my entire life.”

Sandy West

Sandy West in 1976 and 2004 members of the Runaways
Left: 1976; Right: 2004Getty

INSTRUMENT: Drums

BORN: Sandra Sue Pesavento on July 10, 1959 in Long Beach, California. Tragically, she died of lung cancer on October 21, 2006. She was just 47 years old.

AFTER THE RUNAWAYS: Sandy West attempted to have a solo career, and recorded a solo EP, The Beat Is Back. She played solo gigs in the ’80s and ’90s, but her career never took off.

West struggled with drug addiction, and had to take on odd jobs in construction to make ends meet.

PERSONAL: West never married or had kids. She was rumored to be lesbian.

THOUGHTS ON THE RUNAWAYS: In an interview looking back at her time as one of the members of the Runaways, West said, “The Runaways will always be #1 to me! I think we were one of the best bands in the world.”

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