Gary James' Interview With Cherie Currie of
Cherie Currie rocketed to fame as the lead vocalist for the 70s, all female Rock group, The Runaways. She recorded three albums with The Runaways and two solo albums. As a actress, Cherie starred in numerous films including Foxes with Jodie Foster, Parasite with Demi Moore and Wavelength with Robert Carradine. She also appeared in This Is Spinal Tap, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Rosebud Beach Hotel, Rich Girl and so many others.
Cherie's autobiography Neon Angel is considered one of the best Rock and Roll biographies of all time. Cherie continues to act, record and perform all over the world. Cherie Currie talked to us about her teenage years with The Runaways and what her life is like today.
Q - You revised your autobiography by adding some new material. When did that book come out?
A - It came out in 1989, but I have re-written that book. I've added a lot more stories and I've brought it up to present time. It was a young adult book and I've made it more of an adult book.
Q - What have you added to Neon Angel?
A - A couple more Runaway stories. Some things that were very serious that I couldn't address. There were a lot of details left out that I have put in the book. I put in a couple of stories that really needed to be told.
Q - Are you working on getting a new record deal?
A - Right now, there's something pending.
Q - Would that be as a solo act or part of a group?
A - Well, Chuck Wright, who was the bassist for Quiet Riot and House Of Lords and Lanny Cordola, who is an absolutely wonderful producer / guitar player who was also in the House Of Lords and has a huge resume' asked me to do a Blondie tribute album which they were producing and playing on, wanted me to do one of the songs, which I did. As it turned out, our song was one of the best on the record. The guys just decided after working with me that one time, they wanted to do a project with me. They've been the ones approaching the record companies.
Q - What did you do with your life before all of this?
A - Basically, I've been raising my son. I do shows here and there, but to be completely honest, I've been basically a full time mom, which is a big job.
Q - And a very important job as well.
A - Truly the most important job I've ever had. But now my kid is old enough where I can start thinking about me again. So, that's really what I've been doing. I've gone through a divorce too. But, I'm just concentrating of life in general.
Q - Did you miss not being on stage?
A - Oh, sure. Of course. But I still get an opportunity to do that every now and then. Whenever I do get the bug where I want to do that, the situation always arises where I can, so I don't really feel deprived of that. Again, I'm constantly reminded when I see Joan (Jett) and see how successful she is. It's a very difficult and hard life. It's very demanding. To be honest with you, I've really enjoyed just raising my kid and making a stable home and things like that. I miss acting a little bit here and there, but not enough where I would jump in and try to pursue it whole heartedly. It's not something that I have that strong of a desire to do, but if ever the opportunity would come along, I would love to.
Q - You once said being in The Runaways was hell. How could doing what you did be hell? I would bet that you were the envy of millions of girls around the world.
A - Oh, well, it was hell because first of all, it all happened so fast. We were all kids. The people that were supposed to be taking care of us...Kim Fowley, Scott Anderson...really were abusing us. It was verbal abuse on a daily basis. We were working our butts off, man. Going from one town to another. Not having our family or anybody but each other to keep ourselves going. It wasn't a whole lot of fun. We made the best of it we could. It was hard, plus being in The Runaways and an under-age, all-girl band on the road in a very male dominated business was pretty tough.
Q - Would you have been better off had you been older when you went on the road? Would you have enjoyed it more?
A - I think I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if we would have had better management and if we would have had the people that really had our best interests in mind instead of their own pockets. It's sad when you don't make a dime, working for years and everybody else is making all this money and you're broke. You don't get it and don't understand why it's the way it is. The sad thing is when you trust people. It was pretty devastating.
Q - I don't suppose you'll ever see any of that money.
A - We ended up suing Kim Fowley and Polygram Records. Me and Joan and Sandy and Lita. Jackie, behind our backs, cut her own deal without us knowing about it. She had been collecting royalties I believe for quite some time before we even decided to pursue Kim and Polygram. We ended up getting a very small amount of the money, but then we had to give 50% to our lawyers. So, in the long run, it was basically just stopping them from continuously ripping us off. After I left The Runaways, I was hit with a huge tax bill for money that I never made. In the end it took me twelve years to pay it off. But, it was like 30 grand and I never made a dime with The Runaways really, except for Japan where I made $2,600 doing that tour and that was it. I certainly would've been nice to re-coup some of the money that came out of the pocket just being in the band.
Q - Should the practice of having kids perform in bands, in movies and on TV be stopped?
A - No. I can't say that. I know Bill Mummy who was in Lost In Space (TV show). He had a very good career and still has a good career. But it takes people with a really solid head on their shoulders to be able to survive it. You've seen a lot of child survivors basically succumb to pressures later on in life and not being able to live with it anymore. It's a very testy situation. In television you need young actors and also in music. I see some very talented young people. Again, it's just done differently I would imagine. So, differently from us, 'cause we were like the pioneers. There weren't any kids out on tour when we were doing it.
Q - Were you in a band before The Runaways?
A - No. I'd really come to the conclusion after seeing a Diamond Dog's concert (David Bowie) at the Universal Amphitheatre, that that was something I wanted to do...be on stage. Then it wasn't more than just a few months later that I was approached by Kim and Joan, auditioned and became the lead singer of The Runaways. It all happened so fast. I had never even considered putting a band together. I was very young and I wasn't even experienced as a singer. So, it was a trip. Now, I can actually say I can sing today. But, back then my voice was changing all the time. We were going through puberty.
Q - According to the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia Of Rock, The Runaways only real audience was in Japan. Is or was that true?
A - Well, no. I don't think that's entirely true, but that was where we were very strongly recognized. We were like The Beatles in Japan.
Q - So, you couldn't leave your hotel room and go shopping?
A - No. We were chased down the street.
Q - Did you have male "groupies" waiting at the stage door?
A - Well, female too. The girls went nuts for us because it's a very male dominated country. We were a phenomenon. We were the first to be young and all girls. Of course, Suzi Quatro was out there. It was great. I had a lot of fun when I went to Japan.
Q - And yet, you could remove yourself from the Rock scene and not miss it?
A - I'm grateful for that. I think it would be very difficult to live with if I didn't have that perspective on it all. I was tired at a very young age. And, all the drugs that were involved really carried on way past my exit from The Runaways, which I think caused my demise as an actress. There was just a whole lot of fall-out from that period in my life. Now, to see my son and some of the things I've accomplished...this book means a lot to me. It was very difficult to write. It's pretty intense. I'm very proud that I wrote the whole book myself. After reading it, I can't actually believe I sat down and wrote it. I was very afraid to even attempt it. Nobody wants to go back and think about the things that have happened in their life...good or bad. It's very tedious. I would live in the past for weeks at a time, working around my house, being in the 70s.
Q - Did you think The Runaways would've been more successful today than back then if they were starting out?
A - Oh, yeah.
Q - But then, the all girl line-up wouldn't be as novel today as it was in the 1970's.
A - That's so absolutely true. I think that's probably one of the most profound questions anyone has ever asked, 'cause I've never thought about it. Again, because we opened the door. I think we would've had a better shot today. It's crazy for me because it seems like now everybody's starting to see the importance The Runaways had in the music business.