Tag Archive | The Runaways

Must See Attraction: Seattle’s Experience Music Project

EMP Building Exterior
All Photos By Gail

When I was planning my recent four-day stay in Seattle, one of the attractions I knew I couldn’t miss was the Experience Music Project pop culture Museum. I’ve been curious about visiting the EMP. since it was first in construction, which was about 15 years ago. Originally, it’s my understanding that the museum was being built and funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to house his extensive Jimi Hendrix memorabilia collection. But obviously, it’s expanded quite a bit since that original, rather narrow concept.

Space Needle Reflected in EMP Building Exterior
Space Needle Reflected in the Exterior of the EMP

Conveniently located in the Seattle Center, literally in the shadow of the Space Needle, and adjacent to several other top tourist attractions, the EMP is certainly one of the most unusual examples of modern architecture I’ve ever seen. When viewed from the top of the Space Needle, this Frank Gehry-designed structure looks like a Giant took a handful of various boxes of different shapes and colors, and stuck them all together. But this unique approach to modern design has created a fantastic space that provides exhibit halls for not only local music history and an extensive trip down memory lane with the Jimi Hendrix Experience in London, but separate wings for science fiction, fantasy film and literature, horror movies, and the current temporary exhibit highlighting Women Who Rock. Here are a few photos I took during my visit this past July.

Hendrix Experience in London

Any Jimi Hendrix fan is going to be blown away by the Hendrix Experience Hits London section, which fills several ground floor galleries.

Hendrix Experience Costumes

Not only will you see vintage, authentic stage costumes worn by Jimi, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, but the walls of the galleries are plastered with photographs, news clippings, magazine articles, vinyl albums and posters that telegraph the band’s rise to stardom after their initial visit to the UK. All I can say is, it must be nice to be Paul Allen.

Nirvana In Utero Prop

Around the corner from the Hendrix exhibit is an exhaustive documentation of the Nirvana’s impact on the Seattle grunge punk music scene during the 90s. You could easily spend a couple of hours in this section, just reading all about some of the best bands that came from this genre-defining region of the country such as Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and many other Sub Pop signings as well as projects from legendary genre producers such as Jack Endino.

Kurt Cobain Green Sweater

In addition to extensive documentation, Photos, Personal Letters, CD covers, magazine articles, costumes and props, there’s also one of Dave Grohl’s drum kits and other one-of-a-kind memorabilia. Whoever created this part of the museum did so with a good deal of love.

David Bowie Costume from Labyrinth

Fantasy film enthusiasts will not want to miss the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit where I enjoyed seeing costumes such as those worn by David Bowie in the film Labyrinth as well as many other props and costumes from classic films such as The Hobbit, the Wizard of Oz and Clash of the Titans, to name but a few.

Wizard of Oz Guard Uniform

Captain Kirk Chair and Tribbles
Captain Kirk’s Enterprise Command Chair and Tribbles

On another floor there’s an exhibit dedicated to Icons of Science Fiction. Not only are there props and costumes from science-fiction films, but also there are small exhibits on popular books of the genre that laid the foundation for much of the visual media that came in their wake.

Dalek from Dr. Who
Dalek from Dr. Who

Lure of Horror Films Signage

Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film is also a very fun exhibit. Aside from the expected props and costumes, you can personalize your experience by participating in interactive exhibits including the Scream Booth and Philip Worthington’s interactive shadow monster installation – which is just insane.

Creature from Black Lagoon Mask

Rest your weary feet with time spent in a dozen video kiosks where you can sit in near darkness and watch horror film clips (commentary included) curated by directors Roger Corman, John Landis and Eli Roth. Super fun and also very educational!

Pretenders Kim Gordon EMP
Outfits Worn by Chrissie Hynde and Kim Gordon (Image Courtesy of the EMP)

The museum’s top floor is home to a large interactive studio recording exhibit, where you can actually play instruments and record your own music. It’s also where you’ll find the museums latest exhibit, Women Who Rock, which just opened in June. Women Who Rock does an ambitious job of documenting female artists from the 50s through to present including pioneers such as Brenda Lee, Leslie Gore, Loretta Lynn, Ronnie Specter and many of the girl groups through to the punk rock movement, groundbreaking all-female rock groups such as The Runaways and The GoGos and on to superstar solo artists from Madonna to Shakira and, of course Lady Gaga. Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out just as we were entering this particular exhibit, so the only photos I have are ones I pulled from EMP’s website.

Rihanna Awards Outfit EMP
Rihanna Music Awards Outfit (Image Courtesy of the EMP)

The Experience Music Project is a must-see destination for any music and film fan’s trip to the beautiful and vibrant city of Seattle. Exhibits change from time to time so make sure you consult the museum’s website to find out what they have in house during your planned visit.

If Six Was Nine Guitar Sculpture
If Six Was Nine Kinetic Guitar Sculpture

The EMP Museum is located at 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle Center, WA, convenient to the Seattle Center Monorail. Hours are 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM Daily. Visit This Link for additional exhibit schedule and admission information.

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Recommended Listening: Lita Ford, Living Like a Runaway

Lita Ford Living Like a Runaway Cover

Lita Ford doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. She’s been playing guitar professionally since she was a teenager, and while she’s partied as hard as any Rock Star, Ford has kept her private life private, raised a family and still managed to maintain a high level of respect in the rock community for her skillful musicianship, which was never compromised by the fact that she’s also a beautiful woman. I remember reviewing her Greatest Hits Live CD when it was released in 2000 and being so blown away by what a great performer she is and how much fun she and her band seem to be having on stage. She’s never lost sight of what it means to have a Rock & Roll heart, and you have to respect that. So many performers could learn a few lessons on how to rock from Lita Ford. Maybe she’s never been a household name, but when she comes around, people take notice. Lita’s new album, the autobiographical Living Like a Runaway, signals that it’s time to start paying attention again.

These ten songs tell Lita’s life story, from achieving fame at an early age, having a successful career in the era of MTV video stars, to motherhood and her recent (apparently messy) divorce. Working with producer and respected rock guitarist Gary Hoey, Lita sticks to her roots of making an album based on strong song writing (Hoey and lyricist Michael Dan Ehmig are contributing songwriters), guitar, bass, drums and passionate vocals that don’t sound like they came from a can. The album kicks off with the high energy “Branded” and never lets up, delivering Old School heavy rock energy and hooks sharp enough to sharp blood. On the title track, a Bryan Adams-esque ballad that compels with its deeply personal lyrics and memorable melody, Lita looks back on her time in the now legendary teenage all-girl rock band The Runaways, a band that launched not only her career but also that of Joan Jett. That was a long time ago, but Ford makes the experience sound like it just happened yesterday.

In promotional material Lita reveals that after seeing a documentary about Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, she was motivated and inspired to focus on creating Living Like a Runaway as a complete journey rather just than a bunch of individual songs. The effort has paid off, in that this album recalls the experience of listening to an album from start to finish as you retreated to your teenage bedroom, gatefold cover open in front of you, pouring over every lyric and instinctively moving your body to the rhythm of the rock. There are so many great songs on this disc, but my favorites are the aforementioned “Branded,” “Hate,” “The Mask” (which rocks with a slightly industrial feel) and the passionate, frenetic “Relentless”, but if you like real rock and roll, you’ll dig every song.

Living Like a Runaway is Lita Ford’s strongest, most accomplished album to date. Like oxygen in a vacuum, this album is very highly recommended for fans of song-based, melodic hard rock featuring expert guitar work. Who would imagine that such a thing would be so hard to come by these days?

Grade: A

Living Like A Runaway will be released June 19th, 2012 in North America via SPV/Steamhammer. The album will be available in four configurations: a double LP, limited edition CD, standard CD and digital download. Living Like A Runaway is available for pre-order on Amazon Dot Com.

Yes it Exists: The Joan Jett Barbie Doll


She Loves Rock & Roll

The Joan Jett Barbie Doll was released in December of 2009 as part of Mattel’s Ladies of The ’80s Barbie Doll collection (which also included dolls created in the likeness of Debbie Harry and Cindy Lauper). While the doll is no longer being manufactured, a quick Google search reveals that the fashionable and highly collectible Ms. Jett can be purchased at various locales on the Interwebs for between $44 and $56 — quite reasonable for such a find! Happy hunting!

Recommended Listening: Take It Or Leave It, A Tribute to The Runaways

While the span of the band’s career was relatively short, The Runaways changed the landscape of rock and altered the perception of women making music forever. With The Runaways’ biopic just released last year, who would have imagined that their influence would continue to be topical several decades after their break up? I was around for the duration of their rise and fall and, the significant post-Runaways careers of Joan Jett and Lita Ford notwithstanding, I sure never thought we’d still be taking about them 30 years later. So it’s not surprising, really, that Main Man Records has compiled what can only be called the definitive Runaways tribute compilation; a two disc set called Take It Or Leave It. All you need to know is that this record fucking rocks.

If you were alive and digging rock music in the seventies, you don’t really need me – or anyone else for that matter – to sell you on this compilation/tribute. The collection sells itself by virtue of what it is: over fifty separate tracks of badass punk/metal/rock music and interview snippets that make me wish I were 15 years old again and could still get excited about a new band. Because, compared to anything that’s charted in the past 20 years, The Runways kick everyone’s ass. There a few songs here that aren’t “perfect” (really, guys; Bebe Buell may have slept with an impressive number of Rock Stars, but she can’t sing) but they all sound good, and most of the covers are amazing. It’s also fun to hear the brief sound bites from original Runaways members on how they joined the band and other memories. But the bottom line is that this record is Rock & Roll, or what it used to be before everything became emo and autotuned. Yawn city. That’s the most positive review I can give it. Here are a few more details about this faith restoring release.

Take It Or Leave It is a 2-disc collection with 36 tracks that span The Runaways entire catalog. Their best-known songs, like “Cherry Bomb” and “Queens Of Noise” are represented alongside more obscure tunes like “Hollywood” and “Born To Be Bad.” The fullness of the selection makes it evident how generations of artists, from L7 and The Go-Gos to Redd Kross and Guns n’ Roses, call back to the passion-fueled rock sensibility of The Runaways.

While the individual interpretations of each track explore the original contributions of Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West, Jackie Fox, Vicki Blue, Take It Or Leave It also includes two performances by original Runaways band members: lead vocalist Cherie Currie’s rocking remake of fan-favorite “American Nights,” and “Dirty Magazines,” the last recording made by drummer Sandy West (who passed away from lung cancer in 2006) with her band Blue Fox.

More Info, and Track/Band Listing after the Jump!

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Must Read Book: Neon Angel, A Memoir of a Runaway By Cherie Currie

“Neon Angels On The Road to Ruin…”

Few true tales have the power to compel and transport the reader quite like the life story of a bona fide Rock & Roll Survivor. Of Rock’s innumerable legends with stories worth telling, so many of them – Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison; the list is endless, really – never lived long enough to write their histories in their own words. And of those that have written autobiographies, no one ever really gets – or takes advantage of – the opportunity to go back and revisit his or her life on the written page, updating the tale or adding details that were perhaps forgotten or too painful to tell the first time around. Cherie Currie, former lead singer of the teenage all-girl rock band The Runaways is an exception to that rule. In 1989, Cherie published her autobiography, Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story. Admittedly unable to even read the book herself until 2000, Currie – now more than two decades on the right side of recovery from a drug and alcohol addiction (she had to get a private detox room in Sacramento) that nearly took her life – decided that her story needed to be brought up to the present, and that certain traumatic experiences she’d lived through as a young woman, but wasn’t yet ready to re-live in the book’s first installment, needed to be told. Serving as the source material for the new film The Runaways, Neon Angel has been updated and recently republished by It Books/Harper Collins as Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway. For any true rock fan, and even those who read the 1989 edition of Currie’s book, I would strongly suggest checking out the updated version, because it is a pretty wild ride.

Because Currie quit The Runaways after less than two years in the band, and considering that her post-Runaways music career failed to take off like that of her band mates Joan Jett and Lita Ford, who enjoy successful musical endeavors to this day, not many people even know what happened to Cherie Currie once she left the band. What makes Neon Angel such a great read is the authenticity and vulnerability with which Currie imbues her narrative. While she engages the reader with fantastic and vivid tales of rock stardom enjoyed as a member of The Runaways, playing to hysterical audiences wherever they went, having their pictures plastered in rock magazines all over the world and meeting their own rock heroes such as David Bowie and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, the true story of Cherie Currie’s time spent fronting this history-making band is far from all fun and games. Without parental supervision or even proper adult representation, and too naive about the music business to understand their basic legal rights, the girls were robbed blind by Kim Fowley, the producer whose vision for The Runaways was that they serve as his own personal money making-vehicle. Fowley’s verbal and emotional abuse was relentless and based on some of the stories in this book it’s difficult to understand why criminal charges were never brought against this scumbag. Beyond that, there are enough “lost weekend” style drug stories to scare anybody straight, including harrowing tales of times that Currie put herself in harm’s way while under the influence of drugs that make it difficult to believe that she even lived to share them.

Most importantly, Neon Angel takes you inside the world of a talented and driven fifteen year old girl who went to from being a high school student, listening to her favorite records in her bedroom and hanging out with her friends at the local dance club to being an international rock star all before she reached her 17th birthday. Thanks to Currie’s inviting and down to earth narrative voice, the reader can empathize with her personal triumphs and tragedies in a way that allows you to really “get” what it must have been like to walk in her shoes.

Serving as both a cautionary tale and an inspirational true-life page-turner, The Worley Gig gives Cherie Currie’s Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway Five out of Five Stars.

Happy Birthday, Lita Ford!

Lita Ford 2009

Lita Ford, guitarist for The Runaways, ex-lover of Nikki Sixx and former singer of duets with Ozzy Osbourne was born on this day. September 19th, in 1958. While I’m sure she’s had a little bit of work done, she still looks pretty great, despite probably having done more than her fair share of partying back in the day. Happy Birthday, Lita!