Runaways – Cherry Bomb

The Runaways were formed in 1975 by producer Kim Fowley after guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West introduced themselves to him in hopes of starting a group. They eventually went on to recruit Lita Ford, Jackie Fox, and Cherie Currie. Lead singer, Currie, went into her audition with a rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” When the band refused to play the song, Jett and Fowley wrote the chorus of “Cherry Bomb”.

The album peaked at only #194 on the Billboard 100 in 1976. The Runaways materialized out of the Sunset Strip rock-club scene in the mid-1970s, enjoying a few years of fame. Their first gig was in 1975 and they broke up in 1979. The Runaways remain best remembered as the first band of both Joan Jett and Lita Ford.

From Songfacts

A “Cherry Bomb” is a small explosive device popular with kids, but in the context of this song, it means an underage girl who is lots of trouble – in this case taunting her parents and other adults with suggestions of promiscuity and bad behavior.

This was all by design, as Fowley was out to shock with The Runaways and generate a great deal of hype. The band earned a lot of press and a fair amount of rock credibility, since they played their own instruments and for the most part were genuinely talented. In many ways, however, Currie was the weak link – it was hard to take a band seriously when their lead singer wore lingerie on stage and presented herself as jailbait. Currie left the group in 1977 after their third album, and when asked why The Runaways were having a hard time being taken seriously, Joan Jett said, “It was that whole ‘Cherry Bomb With The Corset’ thing with Cherie.”

Joan Jett became the biggest star to come out of The Runaways, and her story was the focus of their 2010 movie, where she was portrayed by the fetching Kristen Stewart. When the group dissolved in 1979, she didn’t have a lot of offers, but the producer Kenny Laguna partnered with her, forming Blackheart Records and creating many classic songs, including the famous cover of the Arrows song “I Love Rock And Roll.” When we spoke with Laguna, he told us: “The record companies could care less about Joan Jett, they were busy signing every other Runaway. They thought Joan was the loser and they signed the other girls, who we’re all friends with, but I looked at the band and thought she was the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the band.”

To give you a hint as to how central this song is to The Runaways’ legacy, the poster of the 2010 Runaways movie features a juicy dripping cherry whose stem is lit and sparking like a bomb. Bevis and Butthead took one look at it and spontaneously combusted.

That’s Cherie Currie growling the vocals here, which were performed by Jett when she left the band. You know what else is on her resumé? Chainsaw artist. That is, she carves wood sculptures using a chainsaw. No, really, she’s good. Check her personal site here. How’s that for machisma? If you don’t see how carving art with a chainsaw is a metaphor for punk rock, we obviously haven’t been explaining this stuff clearly enough to you.

By the way, modern audiences might easily get Joan Jett and Lita Ford confused – their styles are very similar. They were both in The Runaways at the same time and basically wrote the book on all-girl punk bands in the ’70s – but really, they’re a continuation of the lineage first started by Suzi Quatro, whom Jett cites as an influence. You can hear the go-to-hell delinquent rebel in the style of all three, right?

Speaking at Kim Fowley’s memorial service, Joan Jett said that they wrote the song for Cherie Currie’s audition – the collaboration marked the first time Jett had written a song with someone else.

Joan Jett’s version was featured on the 1992 “Free Fall” episode of the TV series Highlander, which starred Jett as an immortal. The song can also be heard on a 2012 episode of True Blood and in the 1993 movie Dazed and Confused.

The song was featured in Marvel Studios’ 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy. Director James Gunn explained how some of the music was used during the filming: “Where possible, the songs were played live on set,” he said. “When you see the gang walking down the hall to ‘Cherry Bomb,’ they were actually walking down the hall to ‘Cherry Bomb.'”

Accompanied by Dave Grohl, Joan Jett performed this song at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when she was inducted in 2015.

Cherry Bomb

Can’t stay at home, can’t stay at school.
Old folks say ‘You poor little fool’.
Down the streets I’m the girl next door.
I’m the fox you’ve been waiting for.

Hello, daddy. Hello, mom.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Hello world! I’m your wild girl.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!

Stone age love and strange sounds too.
Come on, baby, let me get to you.
Bad nights causing teenage blues.
Get down ladies, you’ve got nothin’ to lose.

Hello, daddy. Hello, mom.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Hello world! I’m your wild girl.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!

Hello, daddy. Hello, mom.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Hello world! I’m your wild girl.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!

Hey, street boy, want some style?
Your dead end dreams don’t make you smile.
I’ll give you something to live for.
Have you and grab you until you’re sore.

Hello, daddy. Hello, mom.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Hello world! I’m your wild girl.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Cherry bomb!
Cherry bomb!
Cherry bomb!
Cherry bomb!

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

13 thoughts on “Runaways – Cherry Bomb”

  1. Also for awhile had M. steele in them, she was I think then called “Mikki Steele” but she took odd moniker Michael Steele when she went to the Bangles. Truthfully, not a band I ever remember hearing when they were around, but seems like they did influence others and produced some fine artists .

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Heh. Lita was a hair flipper, even back then.

        Michael was in The Bangles. She replaced the original bassist. She claimed that she was fired by Kim because she rejected sexual advances. Since they started out as a trio, she started out as the lead singer and some recordings have never been released.

        I agree with Joan on Cherie. 😁

        Like

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