The band’s superstardom was short-lived as they eventually disbanded after only three years. From 1976 to 1978, the Runaways released three studio albums and one live record. Although the band’s career was cut short, their incredible success spawned several solo careers. Guitarist Lita Ford released several solo albums and had a huge hit with “Kiss Me Deadly,” in the late 1980s. Cherie Currie has bounced back and forth between solo projects and some film work. Of course, the career of Joan Jett has deservedly overshadowed her brief stint in the Runaways. Joan Jett has become one of the ultimate legends of rock and roll and for her, it all began with The Runaways.
Top 10 Runaways Songs
# 10 – Thunder
Starting out the ourTop 10 Runaways Songs list is the track “Thunder.” The song premiered on the Runaways’ debut album in 1976. The song was listed as the fourth track on side A of the album. “Thunder,” was written by Mark Anthony and Kari Krome. The lead vocal was sung by Cherrie Currie. The song’s great opening riff may be simple, but it’s so pure and effective. The nod to the fifties in the bridge is runaway bliss, Perfect!
# 9 – American Nights
The song “American Nights,” was written by Mark Anthony and Kim Fowley. Cherie Currie handled the lead vocals on American Nights. The song also appeared on the Runaways 1976 debut album. A great Runaways song with a killer riff and hook. This was one of Cherrie Currie’ best vocals. The Queens of Noise lineup made its first appearance. Nice to hear a little piano in the bridge. You gotta love Joan Jett‘s scream at the end. Great ending coda. Simply love this one!
# 8 – Born To Be Bad
The song that stirred great controversy as to what was the real meaning behind the lyrics. The unusual arrangement was not typical of the straight ahead Runaways songs. You either loved this song or hated it. If you listen closely to the song you can hear influences from Hendrix to Springsteen echoing through the lyrical content and blistering guitar riffs. Joan Jett nails the vocal sounding as tough as the song’s title. The song “Born To Be Bad,” was issued on the Queens of Noise LP. It was written by Kim Fowley, Michael Steele, and Sandy West.
# 7 – You Drive Me Wild
“You Drive Me Wild,” followed the opening track “Cherry Bomb,” from the Runaway’s first album in 1976. The song was written by Joan Jett. While Cherie Currie handled the lead vocals to the album’s opening track “Cherry Bomb.” Joan Jett took the mic for “You Drive Me Wild.” It was a fabulous one/ two opening punch to the album. So many rock albums had great opening tracks and then the rest were all filler. “You Drive Me Wild,” instantly proved that notion wrong.
# 6 – Dead End Justice
The closing track on the Runaways’ debut album stands as one of true collaboration. The writing credit for the song was given to Cherrie Currie, Joan Jett, Kim Fowley, and Scott Anderson. Both Cherie Currie and Joan Jett handled the lead vocals on “Dead End Justice.” The Runaways’ debut closed with a killer cut that was darker than anything on the album. Lita Ford‘s guitar solo lights it up.
The song stood as the longest cut on the record and was presented to fans as a mini rock opera. The mini rock opera was a genre that was quite common in the 1970s. The rock operas were usually placed as the last track of most albums as the arrangements of those songs tended to disrupt the flow of the rest of the record.
# 5 – School Days
The Runaway’s song “School Days,” was released on the Runways’ third album Waiting For the Night. The song “School Days,” was the first single released in 1977 from the album. The song featured Joan Jett on lead vocals. The writing credit for “School Days,” was attributed to Joan Jett and Kim Fowley. Minus Cherie Currie, this had now become the Joan Jett/Lita Ford Runaways. If there ever was a video that captured the days to come for Joan Jett and Lita Ford, it was “School Days.”
# 4 – Queens of Noise
The Runaways’ second album was eagerly anticipated by millions of Runaways fans from around the world. The album Queens of Noise was released in 1977. The song “Queens of Noise,” featured the lead vocals of Joan Jett. The opening title track of the album was written by Billy Bizeau. It was quite surprising that the lead track of their second album would not be sung by their lead singer Cherie Currie. There was a recorded version of the song with Cherie Currie on lead vocals, but the record company released the version with Joan Jett on lead vocals instead.
# 3 – I love Playing with Fire
The Runways song “I Love Playing With Fire,” presented fans with the first hint of stardom that would soon elevate Joan Jett beyond the Runaways in the not too distant future. The song is all Joan Jett. “I love playing with Fire,” was solely written by Joan Jett. The song also featured Joan Jett on the lead vocals. Jett would later re-record the song as a solo artist on her third solo album entitled Album.
# 2 – Cherry Bomb
The first Runways song ever released still stands as their most popular recording. Opening their debut album; “Cherry Bomb,” introduced the Runaways to the world. The song was written by Joan Jett and Kim Fowley. Cherie Currie handled the lead vocals on the song. If there was a song that needed to be chosen as a representation of the band’s overall sound, it would be “Cherry Bomb.” The song has been featured in countless movies and television shows. It was featured most recently in the Marvel Comics 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy. In 1976, the song reached number one on music charts in Japan and Scandanavia. In the United Kingdom, “Cherry Bomb,” reached all the way to the number two position on The U.K Billboard Top 100 Music Charts. In the United States, it hit Number 6 on the Billboard Top 100.
The song was re-recorded by Joan Jett for her Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth album which was released in 1994. Cherie Currie also re-recorded the song for her album Messin’ With The Boys, which was a collaboration with her twin sister Marie. When fans recall the Runways, there is always a mention of “Cherry Bomb.” The song may not have been their greatest work, but it has always been their signature song.
# 1 – Gettin’ Hot
“Gettin’ Hot,” was released on the final Runaways album that featured Cherrie Currie. The album was originally released only in Japan in 1977. Most Top 10 Runaways Songs lists tend to feature “Cherry Bomb,” as the Number one song. Historically, it is indeed their most popular song. However, the live performance of “Gettin’ Hot,” defined just how great a rock band the Runaways had actually become. At the core of their greatness was the rhythmic guitar playing of Joan Jett and the authentic lead guitar work of Lita Ford. When listening to the solo sections of “Gettin’ Hot,” the band almost stared to sound like Black Sabbath. In just a couple of short years, the band had performed so frequently that they became tremendously tight on stage. Lita Ford‘s guitar solo on “Gettin’ Hot,” formulated the heart of the band’s greatest performance, and up to that point in time, represented their greatest musical achievement on record.
We can only guess as to what may have come from the Runaways had Lita Ford and Joan Jett continued to work together in the band. The Runways lasted less than four years. Looking back at the successful career that Joan Jett has continued to enjoy since their breakup, one could assume that Joan Jett was better off leaving the Runaways. However, Lita Ford has also released a nice selection of great rocking records over the years. For a band that generated such an incredible following in only a few short years, who knows what may have been if…..
Top 10 Runaways Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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