Rush were rats to Runaways
Runaways mastermind Kim Fowley claims Rush treated the girl band “terribly” when his charges opened for the Canadian outfit in Detroit in the 1970s.
He says a scene in the Runaways movie, in which Joan Jett, Lita Ford and co react against negative treatment from another band, is based on the way the prog rock giants behaved towards them.
Fowley tells Legendary Rock Interviews: “Rush had pseudo-intellectual lyrics and very heady stuff that was all HP Lovecraft, and that doesn’t always go over so well in Detroit.
“Add to that the complicated musical interludes and screaming vocals, and it’s not hard to understand the appeal of the Runaways.
“They also weren’t very nice to the girls. If you watch the movie there’s an incident in which the girls rebel against an older bunch of guys they’re on the bill with. That was Rush, and that actually happened, terribly, to them.”
Fowley, who hand-picked the five Runaways, believes they were an important musical statement in their time. “In 1975 the Ramones hadn’t played yet and the Sex Pistols hadn’t formed yet,” he says. “The landscape, pre-MTV and post-Vietnam, consisted of bands like Kansas and Journey. There were bands like Bachman-Turner Overdrive, who appeared to be in their forties or something, but there was no young energy flowing, no white suburban rebel music.
“There was no American band dealing with teenage issues such as troubles with authority or family or school, or looking for a way out, or escape from teenage alienation.
“The Runaways showed up with all of that. For that small amount of time they were onto something, filling a void, and we were able to be signed to Mercury Records in a relatively short window.”
Fowley, who says he earns $200 an hour whether he’s awake or asleep, insists the girl band were never friends – and that’s one of the reasons they had so much energy.
“The Runaways were not organically formed,” he points out. “They were selected from five different neighbourhoods and it became a case of ‘Hi, you’re now a band!’ They never got on with each other, at the time or even now, and it created a certain tension.
“There’s guy bands that always struggled with that, like the Who or the Doors. Even Emerson, Lake and Palmer rode in three separate buses and couldn’t stand each other.”
But Fowley isn’t convinced live music has a future. “The concept of going to see a band is kind of archaic to a lot of people,” he says. “There will always be ardent music fans and it serves come purpose in tribal bonding – but the general public could give a shit less.
“The average person is not interested in paying to stand in line and wait through bands they don’t want to see, only to see an act through binoculars of even the overhead screens. They would just as soon stay home and fuck their significant other, or watch TV or whatever.
“‘Let’s listen to music’ is no higher on the priority list than ‘Let’s go get a chocolate bar’ or ‘Let’s watch TV.’”
In a separate interview Ford credits Fowley with teaching the band all about the art of performance, but adds: “He’s very eccentric – you have to take Kim with a pinch of salt. He has this weird way of trying to explain things that are very difficult to understand. He’s just got his own way of going about things.”