Why Cherie Currie And Jackie Fox Left The Runaways

There's no doubt that the girls from The Runaways made history when they became the first all-girl rock band to make it big in the 1970s. The bold group of five underage girls singing about sex and drugs and alcohol in lingerie shocked audiences and laid the foundations for the phenomenal solo career of guitarist Joan Jett. As girls in a man's rock and roll world, they had to prove themselves. "We wanted to be The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin," Jett told The Irish Times in 2010. "We wanted to have the same menace that the boys did. We wanted to play dirty, sweaty, sexy rock'n'roll, so when people told us girls couldn't play, that wasn't want they meant. They meant that girls couldn't play rock'n' roll because it implied sex, which means that they're in charge and owning it."

Lead singer Cherie Currie told the Boston Herald that same year that being in the band was "a great way to be rebellious. Go up onstage singing those lyrics in your underwear. It doesn't get any better than that, being underage at the same time." But being a 15-year-old girl in the male dominated rock music industry back then wasn't easy. They found that, despite their intrepid stage presence, it was often the men around them who took control of their sexuality, and Currie and bassist Jackie Fox would end up leaving The Runaways just a couple years after forming the band.

The Runaways' manager Kim Fowley abused and took advantage of his underage clients

Music producer and promoter Kim Fowley had a knack for knowing what audiences wanted to hear. He and Jett wrote the band's biggest hit, "Cherry Bomb," in just a half-hour. But according to The Huffington Post, he was also an inveterate sexual predator who liked to prey on teenage girls. He even once took out a personal ad with a photo of himself and text that read: "If you are eighteen and like it or if you are under 18 and legally emancipated (with paper work) then you may have just stumbled upon the opportunity of a lifetime."

And of course Currie, Fox, and the other Runaways ended up being subjected to this predatory behavior. Currie told Spin in 2010 how he once had sex with a woman in front of them, telling them that it was in order to "teach you dogs how to f***."

Fowley also worked the band members really hard. In order to prepare them for the tough crowds they would play for, he would scream, curse, and throw things at them while they rehearsed, and made them practice for extended periods of time. Just to round out the abuse, Fowley exploited them economically as well, making sure most of the money went to him and other executives. "We were making no money at all," Currie told All That's Interesting. "They were making a lot of money off of us."

Cherie Currie and Jackie Fox became burned out after a couple years with The Runaways

Fowley's maltreatment of the girls reached its pinnacle when he sexually assaulted Jackie Fox in a hotel room in front of other people, including Jett and Currie, who both denied remembering the incident. Fox detailed the experience for The Huffington Post, saying that she was given Quaaludes, which immobilized her. "I remember opening my eyes, Kim Fowley was raping me, and there were people watching me," she said.

By 1977, both Currie and Fox decided they'd had enough of the rock and roll lifestyle and Fowley's abuse and decided to quit the band. Currie was burned out on cocaine, Quaaludes, and alcohol. She had been impregnated by another one of the band's managers and had an abortion at just 16 years old. Fox most likely had PTSD from Fowley raping her. Currie told The Guardian in 2016 that leaving the band — leaving Fowley — "was the end of a nightmare." But she doesn't regret her time with The Runaways or look back on Fowley with anger. "I'm so grateful for that time. People can change. They can. Without him, Joan never would have happened ... so I owe him a great deal and I was very honoured to take care of him towards the end of his life. I would have done it again and again, and I'm sorry that I lost him."