As lead singer for The Runaways, Cherie Currie remains an inspirational figure for every girl who dreams of owning the stage and seducing a crowd with rock n' roll. Though she's kept a lower profile than her former bandmates Joan Jett and Lita Ford since leaving that band, she is now touring again in earnest, playing new and old music.
Her youthful blend of moxie and sex appeal — encapsulated in the classic cut written for her, “Cherry Bomb,” was a big part of her charm, but as a grown woman she clearly has even more to offer. And she still is. On the heels of her opening slot for Danzig at the Gibson Amphitheatre tomorrow, we talked to her about why her record never came out, and the future of the Runaways.
How did the slot with Danzig come about?
Glen and I did a duet together of Nancy Sinatra's “Some Velvet Morning.” He had reached out to my management company a year ago and unfortunately, when he wanted to do the recording I was unavailable. He reached out again a couple months later and I was so happy. I really wanted to work with him.
Did you know him?
I've appreciated what he does but I hadn't met him. I just loved working with him. He's such a great producer, he knows just what he wants.
Was Glen a Runaways fan?
He's a man of few words but he said my voice was what he wanted for this. I was blown away by that. The session was fun, it was exciting, he is full of surprises. He holds nothing back in the studio. It was so refreshing. Later, he asked if I would like to open for him at the Gibson.
You'll be one of the last to play this venue, the last rock artists actually, before it get demolished!
Literally it's a dream come true because I saw my very first concert there, ever, which was David Bowie's “Diamond Dogs.” That was the concert that changed my life. I was a 14 year old girl in the audience watching what was the greatest performer I have ever seen to this day. I just went, 'I have to do that!'
When he [Danzig] told me they're tearing it down soon afterwards, to me it felt like I must have done something really right in my life, because I would have always been sad that I never got a chance to play on that stage, the place that meant so much to me. And we get to do the duet!
You were also working with Matt Sorum, right? Wasn't he in your band?
Matt is an amazing talent. That was kind of a fluke. I was asked to open for Joan at the Pacific Amphitheatre back in 2010. Matt had been reaching out to me for a couple weeks to do something with his fiance Ace. I was traveling for the movie, but when I got back I realized I really needed help putting a band together for the show so I called him.
I asked Matt for help and he said not only will I help you, but I'll drum for you. My knees buckled, I was so honored. And he put together an amazing band, and my son plays guitar.
How did you start making new music with Matt?
He didn't expect the reception that we received or the response, we were immediately offered a record deal. So he wanted to be involved, and produce the record.
Kenny Laguna who was my manager at the time, wanted it on Blackheart [his company with Joan Jett] so we ended up making the record for them and Matt brought in Billy Corgan for a duet, The Veronicas, Juliette Lewis, Brody Dalle, Slash and Duff.
Wow. What is the status on that record now?
Well it's not out and don't know if it ever will be. Kenny wouldn't let me play anywhere. Three years went by and I said please don't let me wait another summer… he had the record, it needed some slight remixes, guitars and stuff. But he just wasn't doing anything with it. He wasn't finishing it.
I wanted to tour, especially on the back of The Runaways movie and my new book. It was just a no brainer to me after that show opening for Joan, which was so successful and had great reviews. If he would have allowed Matt and I to go out and do more shows… but he wouldn't. So when my management contract expired in March, I would not renew it. I had to walk from the record and the management. I still don't understand why.
So we may never get to hear that record?
Well, I hope that Kenny will let me have the masters and then I can get out there and sell it. It's a fun record. Matt brilliantly made the record for Runaways fans. It has that kind of sound that the Runways had. It's a tragedy that it hasn't come out. Three years had gone by of me doing nothing. Just my chainsaw carving, and let me tell you, there were days when I chopped up a few logs pretty aggressively.
How is your relationship with Blackheart and Joan Jett now?
I have to wish everybody the best. I really don't think Joan has anything to do with it. She's busy. I think she performs 300 days of the year. It was a conflict of interest for me to have signed with Kenny simply because looking back, he's so busy on the road with Joan all the time. He did a wonderful thing with the movie, but at my age I can't wait.
So now you're out there touring again.
As long as I get out there and do these songs for the fans, I can show people that I can do it without Blackheart. I'm having fun and I'm loving meeting fans. To be perfectly honest I couldn't listen to the Runaways music for 20 years after i quit.
But you're enjoying playing Runways music now?
I always enjoyed playing it, and when Sandy [West] was alive I did a handful of shows. I always had Sandy with me. It was a friendship that was close 'til the end.
And what about Lita?
Last night actually, a miracle happened, something that I had dreamed of for the last three decades. I jumped off a plane from Minneapolis and went to the studio to record with Lita Ford. We did a Christmas song. It's absolutely phenomenal. This girl… not only can she write and play and sing, she is astonishingly talented. We've never worked together like this, and for her to ask me to do a duet with her on her record….it's probably one of the greatest things I've ever recorded.
You two weren't always close were you?
We got close again about two years ago. We and had dinner at Universal, actually. Lita and I are the only two mothers from the Runaways.
What do you think about Queens of Noise, the new book covering the Runaways?
I spoke to the author Evelyn when she did the L.A. Weekly article on Sandy West after she died. Not involved with the book. She claims I have a reputation of being difficult, but I had just lost my friend. I was concerned with her approach on the story. My friend can't defend herself. I didn't like her questions and I wasn't going to be a part something that could tarnish Sandy's memory in any way, shape or form. I was not thrilled with the article and therefore felt I didn't want to be part of the book. Lita felt that way as well.
Did you read it?
I didnt read the book and probably won't read it. When I lost Sandy it was so painful, then there was Evelyn, who was injected into the situation and was so tenacious. It got to the point, I told her please don't call me anymore. I was trying to mourn my friend. You know how when you have the stomach flu or eat something that makes you sick, then you stay away from that food for life? That's how I feel.
What about Kim Fowley? Your relationship with him has been contentious. Then I wrote about you two making up at that party…
You know, we all grow-up. Kim has done some bad things. After The Runways broke up he released my Capitol record in Austrialia before I released it myself. And the band never had any money. We all sued him and Polygram to get the name and our royalties. We never saw a dime before that.
I was resentful of what he took, but when I saw him that night, I realized that those feelings only hurt me. He did put us together… After that night, we spoke on the phone and our conversations went on for hours. He had an answer for everything of course. But he also said you know what, I'm sorry. I had never heard him say that before. Then he said something profound, he said, 'I'm not a father, I did not know how to deal with you young girls.” I believed him.
When I spoke with Joan about a Runaways reunion she wasn't too into it, one of the reasons being that Sandy is gone…
Well, I think if we could have a backdrop with pictures of Sandy, I think she would love that so much… Sandy wanted a reunion more than any of us. Lita and I talked about your article. It was almost like she [Jett] resented people asking [about a reunion]. It threw me and Lita back. I think we are better now than we ever were as kids. Why can't the three of us do something? Anyway me and Lita are doing stuff together and I think, Joan, when she sees how much fun were having, maybe she'll reconsider.
See also: Joan Jett on Her Sunset Strip Glory Days
So you'd be totally into doing Runaways reunion.
It's what the fans want. They made our dreams come true. I think we owe them.
My show now is for the fans. I ask fans and supporters what their Runaways favorites are, then throw those songs in there.
Are you surprised by the impact the band is still having, especially due to the film?
If it wasn't for the fans, the movie wouldnt have happened. I thought we were all but forgotten, especially when Madonna started wearing a corset on stage and everybody was going, oh she's the first. A lot of people know I did that first but I thought it was just forgotten. I realized that wasn't true.
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