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.