Before Joan Jett and The Blackhearts or Lita Ford, there was The Runaways. This all-female band deftly navigated the punk scene in the latter half of the 1970’s. Formed by Jett and drummer Sandy West, The Runaways became an integral piece of the punk scene in the US and abroad. The Runaways drew their influence from rock and roll royalty including David Bowie, Gene Simmons, and Suzie Quatro.
Following the release of their self-titled debut record, The Runaways quickly began touring with some of rock and roll’s biggest names. They opened for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Cheap Trick to name just a few. In 1977, after the release of their second record, The Runaways launched their own world tour. They toured the US and Europe, and when they arrived in Japan The Runaways were in for a huge surprise.
Joan Jett has described the reception at the airport in Japan as resembling Beatlemania. Throngs of eager fans waited for them on their arrival. The Runaways were number four on the music charts in Japan at the time and they played a series of sold out shows in the country.
Their firm footing in the punk rock scene and their global influence make The Runaways an obvious choice for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite their short tenure, The Runaways made an indelible mark on rock and roll. They were quickly accepted as an inevitable piece of the punk music landscape, mingling with punk icons like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols.
Joan Jett is already quite definitely a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee as a member of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The induction invited controversy when it was announced that Miley Cyrus would do the honors but the world quickly learned that Cyrus is a lifelong fan who has covered Jett’s songs and even performed duets with the rock legend on more than one occasion. Cyrus’s impassioned speech painted a picture of just how influential Jett has been throughout the course of her career. But just because she was inducted already does not mean The Runaways are off the list.
Thing is, there are a lot of rock and rollers who have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than once. Ringo Starr was inducted as a member of the Beatles and for his work as a solo artist. Michael Jackson was honored twice and so were Jeff Beck, Neil Young, and Peter Gabriel. The list of multiple inductees goes on and on. Eric Clapton has been inducted three times, once as a member of Cream, a second time as a member of The Yardbirds, and finally as a solo artist.
What’s missing from this list is a single female rock artist. No one would dream of taking away the well-deserved honors bestowed on these multiple inductees whose names read as a who’s who of the history of rock and roll, but it can be easily argued that Joan Jett is as integral to the fabric of rock as any of these men. Her name is absolutely synonymous with rock and roll. The Runaways helped solidify the female presence in punk rock and for this, they are long overdue for their day in the hall of fame.