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Cherie Currie's extraordinary life reads like fiction. From a teenage rock star to becoming an accomplished Chainsaw Carving artist, Cherie has always taken the road less traveled.
Cherie Currie was born
and raised in the San Fernando Valley, where she spent her early teenage
years living the Southern California lifestyle with skateboarding
and surfing being her pastimes of choice. Cherie would regularly sneak
out to Paradise Cove to catch the waves on her eight-foot, blue and
yellow gun board. Cherie describes her life at this time as “about
as Ozzie & Harriet as it comes.” However, soon the idyllic
existence ended with the demise of her parent’s marriage.
Inspired by the music and
image of David Bowie, Cherie found an escape and a raison d'être
in rock & roll. The twins began frequenting the Sugar Shack, a
club for teens in North Hollywood, which played all the hottest glam
rock cuts coming out of the UK. It was there, where she met producer
and manager Kim Fowley and a young guitarist named Joan Jett, who
also frequented the club. They were searching for a lead singer for
the all-female rock band they were forming, which then consisted of
Joan Jett on guitar and Sandy West on drums, and was called The Runaways.
Cherie was asked to learn a Suzi Quatro song for her audition, but when she arrived to the audition with "Fever", a Peggy Lee original (which Quatro had covered), the band would not play the song. Unable to agree on a suitable alternate song, Joan and Kim wrote an impromptu audition piece, the chorus and title being a play on words referring to Cherie’s name and "cherry blonde bombshell" good looks. "Cherry Bomb" became one of The Runaways signature songs, and still stands today as a universal anthem for teenage rebellion.
Cherie was just 15 when she became The Runaways lead singer. “I was thrust into fronting a band. I’d never really sang; I’d never been on a stage with a live band,” says Cherie. “It was like being in the center of a hurricane, everything was moving so fast.” Within a month of Cherie joining The Runaways, the band secured a deal with Mercury Records. Two weeks later they were in the studio recording their self-titled first album.
The Runaways faced opposition and criticism simply because they were unlike anything the world had seen before. They were a teenage all-girl band, which people hoped to dismiss, however, they delivered – technically and creatively – with maturity well beyond their years. With the triple threat of talent, self assured sexuality, and style, The Runaways rocked as hard, if not harder, than the men in the male-dominated rock world. Their provocative image, which was augmented by the outrageous fishnets and corset Cherie wore for “Cherry Bomb,” would lay the groundwork for pop star fashion we still see today.
The release of their debut album in 1976 was followed by a national tour across America. During this time, the girls headlined bills over legendary bands such as Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Tom Petty, and The Ramones. By the time their sophomore album, Queens of Noise (1977), was released, The Runaways’ legend had gone international.
The band embarked on an international tour of Europe and then ultimately Japan, where Runaways mania had reached a fever pitch, as they were the fourth most popular international act there behind Led Zeppelin, ABBA, and Kiss.
Drained by their non-stop
schedule, overworked, and underpaid, the already fractured and fragile
group began to fall apart. A Live In Japan album was released
as a coda to the tour. It was the last full-length release to feature
the original Runaways lineup. Cherie left soon after the band’s
return to the US.
During that same year,
another of Cherie’s many talents took center stage. She was
cast opposite Jodie Foster in Foxes, a coming-of-age movie, set in
the San Fernando Valley, where she played Annie, a teenage runaway,
dabbling with substance abuse to cope with the scars inflicted by
an abusive father.
Cherie recounted the story of her incredible ups and downs, dealing with success, as well as with her struggles with addiction, in her 1989 autobiography, Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story. Cherie was forced to leave much of the more salacious moments of her story out, as the book had been written specifically for the young adult market.
Cherie set out to tell the story of her incredible journey again, this time, leaving no detail censored.
Cherie showed the new manuscript
to Joan Jett’s longtime collaborator, producer and partner in
Blackheart Records, Kenny Laguna. He had been a close friend for many
years and offered to shop it for a book deal. In the process of doing
so, he ended up securing a film deal, which is now
One of the most enjoyable parts of that ride for Cherie was having the chance to get back in the studio with Joan to re-create The Runaways’ music for the film. “We really had a treat with this movie because we hadn’t been in a studio together since 1977,” she says.
“I didn’t realize how good that band was until the last ten years. It was a roller coaster that just didn’t end. I didn’t have a chance to breathe and look at what we were really doing. If I even had a clue of what this band would end up being 30-plus years later, I would have taken it a lot more seriously, as far as staying together, and trying to work through our differences. But everyone was pitting us against each other, keeping us on edge all the time. We never had a fighting chance.”
Cherie also got her wish,
with her new book, Neon Angel-A Memoir of a Runaway. The
book is being published by IT Books/ HarperCollins Publishers and
hits stores March 16, 2010 to coincide with the release of the film.
The Runaways, the film, is based on Cherie's, Neon Angel-A
Memoir of a Runaway (It Books/HarperCollins).
Cherie Currie is a legendary performer, artist, and author.
Cherie was a rock and roll pioneer, as lead singer for The Runaways, the first all girl rock and roll band to receive international success.
Faced with much adversity and resistance in a male dominated industry, she gained the strength that she would carry with her throughout her life.
One of the Runaways' most well known songs, Cherry Bomb was penned by Joan Jett and Kim Fowley, during Cherie's audition for the band, and is actually a play on her name.
The song has been covered
by countless artists and used in many TV shows and films.
At the tender age of 15, Cherie led the Runaways in their rock and roll fantasy, proving that girls not only could play rock and roll, but, indeed, they could establish a movement, inspiring other female musicians to break the mold.
After leaving the Runaways in 1978, Cherie had major acting roles in Foxes, with Jodi Foster, Wavelength, with Robert Carradine, and then Parasite, with Demi Moore. These films have legendary cult status, and there are legions of fans that are still devoted to Cherie.
Cherie set out to tell her story in her book, Neon Angels, describing her journey in the LA entertainment and art scene and her international adventures.
The book itself was a journey, taking more than 2 decades and several different forms before it was finally completed (soon to be released through IT/Harper Collins).
With the help of Kenny Laguna, of Blackheart Records Group, Cherie was able to have her book made into a feature film by River Road Entertainment, starring Dakota Fanning as the young Cherie. The film is due out in Spring 2010.
While Cherie is still performing, writing, and acting, she continues to strive to take on unorthodox endeavors, becoming one of the prominent chain saw carvers in the world, rated #7 in the world for chainsaw competition in 2008.