In 1975, five teenagers from far-flung corners of suburban Los Angeles banded together to make some noise. The Runaways were the first all-girl hard-rock group to sign a multiyear, major-label record deal and tour the world. They caused riots in Europe and set off a sort of Beatlemania in Japan, and their signature song “Cherry Bomb” was an instant classic.
But along the way they also ran into walls of institutionalized sexism in the music busi- ness and were attacked, sometimes viciously, by audience members, music journalists of both genders, and fellow musicians. At a time when doors seemed to be opening for women in sports, politics, and education, the so-called Queens of Noise fought to be heard on their own terms—as artists expressing teenage de- sire and frustrations, guitars and drumsticks in hand.
The story of the Runaways has inspired two movies and countless bands but has never been told in its entirety. Queens of Noise draws on interviews with most of the former mem- bers, including Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Cherie Currie, Jackie Fox, and Vicki Blue, along with their col- orful and controversial manager Kim Fowley, producers, family members, fellow musicians, and journalists.
Beyond the lurid, voyeuristic appeal of a sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll saga, author and journalist Evelyn McDonnell has written both a vivid evocation of the rock world of the ’70s Sunset Strip and a definitive biography of a legendary band that grants the Runaways their place in musical, feminist, and cultural history.