How unfair is it that Joan Jett got nominated for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame before her first band, the Runaways, did? I’ve been debating this question with a few people in the weeks since this year’s ballot was announced, including with some folks who have a personal stake in the business. Most are disappointed by but sanguine about the Hall’s avoidance of a band that never did garner respect, let alone record sales. Even those with personal reasons to resent the erstwhile Ms. Larkin toast her success.
Runaways mastermind Kim Fowley was as flip, funny, and self-serving as ever when I asked him for a comment. He rightly noted that the Runaways will never be nominated, even though they were more groundbreaking than the solo Jett. The mostly old-school boys club that vote for the Rock Hall are not going to take the band that seriously, in part because Fowley himself treated them as a gimmick gone wrong. The Runaways remind us of everything bad about the rock biz, even when we’re shouting along to “School Daze.” To honor them would be to admit a guilty past. That’s not what the Hall of Fame is about.
Kim, whose decades of work as a Hollywood hitmaker will also probably never get a New York rubber-chicken banquet salute, probably says it better than I do. Here’s what he emailed me:
“Congratulations to Joan for her Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Nomination. However, Joan’s work and The Runaways were MORE groundbreaking. The Runaways will NEVER be given any Hall of Fame cred anywhere/ anytime/ for any reason… because they were rebels. In politics “crazy” doesn’t win elections and in music awards only the airbrushed & the Photoshopped are honored. Besides, the industry NEVER understood The Runaways.
“The only sets of humans that ever understood The Runaways were the ‘unknown, unloved, unnoticed, unappreciated, unsigned, resented and hated music dreamers.’ Long may they reign.
“Joan Jett should make a new Rock n’ Roll album and I should co-write it with her. ‘Adult Rock n’ Roll’ did NOT die with John Lennon… but it could be reborn with Joan Jett co-writing with Kim Fowley.
“That’s how I roll… only the strong survive.
Much love to Joan and Kenny… from The Duke of Dreams.”
What do you think? Did the Hall of Fame dis the Runaways?