Book review: Evelyn McDonnell's *Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways*For the next step, you'll be taken to a website to complete the donation and enter your billing information. You'll then be redirected back to LARB. To take advantage of all LARB has to offer, please create an account or log in before joining There is less than a week left to support our matching grant fund drive! Your tax-deductible donation made to LARB by pm, December 31, will be doubled thanks to an anonymous donor. Through extensive interviews and research, McDonnell, a music critic, author, and journalism professor at Loyola Marymount, provides a panoramic scale, sense, and dignity to a complicated and emotion-filled saga that still divides the key players and band members, replete with ongoing lawsuits and deeply entrenched resentments. Though never commercially successful, the Runaways continue to influence many.
Book Review: Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways
Yet somehow the Runaways made both look easy — and over-the-top fun — for a few years in the bacchanalian L. Sadly, both symbols and teens tend to age out. Through meticulous research and a stylistic approach that swings between academic and aggressively candid, McDonnell gives these pioneering girls the third dimension they deserve. Chapters focus on an individual band member or the leg of a specific tour, but along the way, McDonnell illuminates the state of music journalism in , the pop-culture mania of Japanese fans, how poor lawyering can lead to ludicrous management contracts, and why the Sunset Strip was such a perfect location for rock reinvention. Underrated or overrated, geniuses or hacks, sex kittens or toughs, the Runaways were a magnet for projection. McDonnell attempts to place them in a range of cultural contexts with varying levels of success. At times, the book becomes mired in making connections between the life cycle of a teenage rock band and esoteric critical theory.
Buy Queens of Noise by Evelyn McDonnell (ISBN: ) from "This book may be the first Runaways project to successfully represent all five.
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The Runaways weren't the first all-girl rock band there was Fanny, and even Debbie Harry, pre-Blondie, played in a group with her chick buddies called the Stilettos , but they certainly made the most noise, culturally speaking. Put together by Hollywood icon Kim Fowley, the unofficial mayor of the Sunset Strip, the band released several albums and undertook a handful of tours in the US, Europe and Japan. The thing that brought them notice--being an all-female outfit--was also the very element that brought them down. What unfolds here is a band that was more interesting offstage than they were on. McDonnell to her credit pulls no punches in describing drug usage, in-fighting, and the alternate life styles many of the girls were following.
Sandy West was a teenager he encountered on the Sunset Strip. Fowley mercilessly drilled the band members — Jett, the singer and rhythm guitarist; West, the drummer; Jackie Fox, one in a succession of bassists; Lita Ford, the lead guitarist; and Cherie Currie, the frontwoman — in the demands of rock performance. Plucking them from high school, Fowley got a record contract with Mercury and struck a deal with the band that was overwhelmingly favorable to him. The group was sent on underfinanced tours, after their parents received false promises of tutoring and chaperoning. Still, the Runaways owned their aspirations, as McDonnell makes clear, even if they produced just five albums over four years.