This is part two of the original post on “Female Glam Rockers: Leathered-Up Queens of Noise”, and features more extensive look at three spectacular female Glamour Rockers in their own right: Joan Jett, Girlschool, and Lita Ford. As stated in the first post, these female rockers held their own with their male counterparts and as such are accepted as having “made their mark” in the fields of heavy metal and Glamour Rock acts, with astounding results musically and professionally.
Joan Jett (born Joan Marie Larkin) is an American-born rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter best known for her work with the Runaways -ground-breaking all-girl rock group in the 1970s- as well as with her solo career as rock musician with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts had a string of hits in the 80s and 90s, including “I Love Rock N Roll”, which was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 from March to May 1982. Other hits by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts include “Crimson and Clover”, “I Hate Myself for Lovin’ You”, “Bad Reputation” and “Light of Day”.
Joan Jett was born in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. In her teens in the 1970s, Joan would sneak out at night with friends to attend rock concerts; she received her first guitar at age 13 from her parents at Christmas.(For this and subsequent info, see Wikipedia).Later, Joan’s family moved to West Covina, California (L.A. county) which gave Joan the opportunity to pursue her rock and roll dreams. Suzi Quatro was Joan’s idol, and Joan, as a teenage fan, would wait in the lobby after Quatro’s rock concert perfomances to try to meet the star. Legend has it that they did meet, but details on this encounter most likely would be found on Jett’s website http://www.joanjett.com which has many details about the writing of particular songs by the Runaways as well as with the Blackhearts. Jett adopted Suzi Quatro’s style of shag haircut, leather, and tough-girl rocker stance, musically and lyrically. Around age 16, Joan Jett began hanging out at the only Glamour Rock nightclub in the Los Angeles area called Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, where she met the man who would become the Runaways’ producer, the eccentric Kim Fowley. The rest is an astounding history, and see former post here for more information on The Runaways legendary musical sound and “mass hysteria” tours as the only all-teenage all-girl rock band then, and even to this day do they hold that distinction!
In Spring 1979, Joan Jett was in England pursuing a solo career and recorded several songs with Sex Pistols band members’ Paul Cook and Steve Jones. Jett then returned to L.A. to complete an obligation to finish a film about the Runaways called “We’re All Crazee Now” and during the shoots met Kenny Laguna who then was instrumental in helping Joan form the Blackhearts. She placed an advertisement looking for band members as “looking for three good men” and from these auditions recruited Gary Ryan on bass, Eric Ambel on guitar, and Danny “Furious” O’Brien. After recording demos, the band’s efforts were rejected by 23 major labels, so they decided to form an independent record label “Blackheart Records” and put the record out themselves. Watch the video post on this page to see this documented to the band’s great single “Bad Reputation”.
Girlschool are a British metal band, originating out of the “New Wave British Heavy Metal Scene” in 1978, according to Wikipedia. Girlschool was also frequent collaborators with contemporaries, heavy metal rockers Motorhead. Formed from a school band called Painted Lady, Girlschool enjoyed success with three metal albums in the early 80s but soon lost momentum after that. The principle members of the band are Kim McAuliffe (rhythm guitar, vocals), Dinah Williams (bass guitar), Deidre Cartwright (lead guitar, vocals) and Tina Gayle on drums. Kim McAuliffe was famously quoted as saying “The reason we were all girls is we couldn’t find any blokes to play with us.” Girlschool’s first three albums were Demolition (1980), Hit and Run (1981), and Screaming Blue Murder (1982). Their first single “Take It All Away” was released in 1978, and “Please Don’t Touch” was released in 1981 with Motorhead.
Lita Ford was born Lita Rossana Ford to a British father and Italian mother in London, England. She moved with her family to the U.S. at the age of four and began playing guitar at age eleven. In 1975, she joined the all-girl band The Runaways as lead guitarist. Lita’s lead guitar skills are on par with her male counterparts in heavy metal, and thus, she has toured with Glam Rockers Poison, Motley Crue, Britny Fox, as well as heavy metal rockers Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Antrax and Iron Maiden. Lita Ford’s first album was released in 1983 entitled Out For Blood; however, Ford scored the most commercial success with her album entitled Lita which went Platinum in the U.S. and Gold in Canada with singles “Kiss Me Deadly”, “Back to the Cave”, and “Falling In & Out of Love”. You can see Lita Ford on tour in 2012 with Heavy Rock group Def Leppard and Glam Metal band Poison.
[ There are only a handful of all female Glam Rock bands, but these true rock innovators brought about more heavy metal sounds that astounded audiences in the 70s, because at that time, no one ever imagined that girls could rock as hard as boys when it came to rock music. Yet these Glamour Rock girl musicians held their own and earned respect from international audiences and the music community at large, for their heavy metal songs, their musicianship, their sexuality, and to this day there are no equals to: Suzi Quatro, The Runaways, Girlschool, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, and Lita Ford. This post will talk about Suzi Quatro and The Runaways. Please watch a later post for review of Joan Jett, Lita Ford, and the heavy metal female Glam Rock British band Girlschool.
Many people would agree that Suzi Quatro was the most ground-breaking of the female rockers. To put it succinctly, she was the first, and was the primary role model to The Runaways, an all-teenage girl group that then produced Joan Jett and Lita Ford in Glamour Rock solo careers.Suzi Quatro challenged social norms that “good girls don’t do that” by dressing all in leather, playing bass guitar and singing lead vocals in a hard rock band that produced a string of great hits, all while using sex as a come-on to the music.
Susan Kay “Suzi” Quatro is an American born rock artist from Detroit, who began her career in rock music at the age of 14, when she played bass guitar in the all-female band The Pleasure Seekers and Cradle with her sisters (Wikipedia) According to Quatro’s autobiography, her first bass guitar was a 1957 Fender Precision, given to her by her father. Suzi Quatro was born into a Catholic musical family, in that her father was a part-time jazz musician, and her sister was in another well-known girl group called Fanny. (For this and subsequent history, see Wikipedia)
Quatro moved to England in 1971 after she was discovered in Detroit by record producer Mickie Most; Most produced records by The Animals, Jeff Beck and Donovan. He started his own record label RAK records, which made famous another Glamour Rock group named Mud. Suzi Quatro had a number of blockbuster hits in the 1970s including “Can the Can” (1973), “48 Crash” (1973), “Devil Gate Drive” (1974), and “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” (1975). Quatro’s success waned in the late 70s but she came back with hits “If You Can’t Give Me Love” (1978) and “Stumblin’ In” (1978)–a duet with Chris Norman of Smokie—as well as “Rock Hard” (1980). Suzi Quatro continues to record and tour to this day. See the artist’s website http://www.suziquatro.com for further information. Most recently (2009) Suzi Quatro was selected as one of the “Twelve Queens of British Pop” by BBC TV. (See Wikipedia)
If Suzi Quatro was the Queen of British Pop, then The Runaways were the undisputed “Queens of Noise”. The remarkable story of this all female teenage band of Glam Rockers is well-known to many from the Indie Film The Runaways. The Runaways made less than 10 studio albums, their first two albums The Runaways and Queens of Noise are classic and unsurpassed Glam Rock albums. The Runaways were Cherie Currie (lead singer), Joan Jett (guitarist), Lita Ford (lead guitarist), and Sandy West (drums). It is an illustration of the power of this girl glam rock group that both Joan Jett and Lita Ford went on to form their own Glam Rock bands that achieved international fame on their own. The beginning of the Runaways is this: Guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West formed the band after being introduced to each other by West Coast (Los Angeles) record producer Kim Fowley. Singer/bassist Micki Steele initially joined the group, and then Lita Ford was added. Steele was fired from the group but later formed another successful female band The Bangles. Lead singer Cherie Currie was discovered at a teen nightclub called The Sugar Shack, followed by bassist Jackie Fox. (Wikipedia). After playing the club and party circuit around L.A., the group was signed to Mercury Records, releasing their debut album The Runaways, which had such great hits as “Cherry Bomb”, “Hollywood”, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (cover of a song by Slade), and “Rock and Roll” (cover of a song by The Velvet Underground). After achieving success in the U.S. and abroad, the group embarked on a tour of Japan in 1977 for a series of sold-out shows where they were greeted with mass hysteria everywhere, that Joan Jett later compared to “Beatlemania.” The Runaways at that time rivalled Led Zeppelin and Kiss in Japan for the biggest chart-makers. (See Wikipedia) The group, however, was never the same after an argument between Cherie Currie and Lita Ford in a photo session, famously documented in the film of the same name, which eventually led to Cherie leaving the band, and The Runaways’ fame leaving them soon after.
March 1, 2012 | Categories: Entertainment, Glam Metal Rock Music, Glam Rock, Heavy Metal Music, Rock Music | Tags: Cherrie Currie, Cherry Bomb, Female Rockers, GIrlschool, Glam Rock, Glitter Rock, Heavy Metal, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Runaways, Suzi Quatro | Leave a comment