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Cherie Currie: Long distance runaway

Date
May 5, 2016
Michael Dwyer

Music writer

 

Cherie Currie always had a place in hell for Kim Fowley. She was 15 when he found her in a Hollywood club in 1975. Days later she was fronting the Runaways, the all-girl rock band he assembled with 16-year-old Joan Jett.

Within two years, the band's bombshell singer would be onstage in Japan in lacy corset and suspenders, just as lost in sex, drugs and rock'n'roll as the manager who liked to call her "dog c---".

Had he known all that went on under Fowley's spell, "my father would have absolutely pulled out a gun and blown his brains out," Currie reflected in the 2004 documentary, Edgeplay. "I still hope one day someone does. Cause I think if anyone deserves it, that man does."

As it happened, the infamous LA manager-producer-songwriter died of natural causes last year. Surprisingly, one of his last projects was Reverie, the first album in 35 years by Cherie Currie.

"Kim happened to reach out to me and I knew he was gravely ill and I just jumped at the chance," says the 56-year-old singer and chainsaw sculptor who struggled with addiction for many years after just two with the Runaways.

"We became friends after, well, 40 years of… bad memories. So this was an opportunity to make new memories with him and get rid of the nightmare ones.

"It was realising that it was only hurting me and I couldn't imagine having to live the rest of my life like that," she explains.

"After all that time, and being a mother, I wanted to find out what his mindset was and why he took the approach he did with the band … just the cruelty behind it all."

Currie's book, Neon Angel, was the source for Jett's 2010 movie, The Runaways, although Hollywood mostly opted for an upbeat girls-can-do-it subtext in lieu of nightmares.

Nightmares like the time Fowley pimped Currie to a reigning pop idol because "The two of you together would be great press." Or the time he allegedly drugged and raped bassist Jackie Fox in a San Diego hotel room.

Fowley "actually shed tears" recalling those days, Currie reports with remarkable compassion. "People do change after 40 years. They do. And I understood where he was coming from.

"He had to send very, very young teenage girls out on the road with no parental supervision into basically a sea of sharks. He tried to prepare us as best he could for that."

Fowley's illness precluded him from finishing Reverie, so Currie fleshed it out with her son, Jake Hayes, a couple of old Runaways tunes – and another surprising rapprochement.

Guitarist Lita Ford wasn't her best pal back in their teenage whirlwind years. "And that was something that haunted me, it truly did," she says. In the feelgood aftermath of The Runaways, she asked Jett to set up a meeting and bingo, that's Ford singing and playing on two tracks.

Which all says a great deal for time the healer – although all rapes, rehab, rip-offs and memoirs considered, relations remain complex between the surviving Runaways (drummer Sandy West died of lung cancer in 2006, after a life chequered with drugs, crime and prison).

"What upset me most about the movie was that Lita wasn't involved and Jackie wasn't involved and that was no doing of mine or Joan's," Currie says. "Lita was just misled by her then-husband as far as the contract was concerned.

"Jackie [now a showbiz lawyer] wanted to be a producer as well as be paid just an enormous amount of money that was almost laughable … so they cut her out of the movie."

Later bassist Vicki Tischler-Blue has been effectively cut, too, since she made the aforementioned Edgeplay doco in which Jett refused to take part. At the time, the filmmaker suggested the moral of the Runaways' story was "Be careful what you wish for."

Today, Currie's view is more rosy.

"We did what we believed in. We stood up for girls, very young, that didn't think they had it in them. At that time, we weren't sure that we did either. But we changed the history of rock'n'roll. And I'm proud that I was part of it."



Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/cherie-currie-long-distance-runaway-20160503-goi0zi.html#ixzz4AuDQ6JIZ 
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