Posts Tagged ‘Lita Ford’

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We want to hear new rock n roll from this lady ! (photo courtesy of Devious Planet)

Like many other long-time Runaways devotees, I was ecstatic to hear that former vocalist Cherie Currie was locked in a studio and recording a new album ! This was a couple of years back now. After years of spinning Cherie’s solo albums – such as the one she did with sister Marie ‘Messin With The Boys’, and her very underrated 1978 LP ‘Beauty’s Only Skin Deep’ – I could not wait to hear some new material. Matt Sorum from Guns n Roses was producing, Slash and Duff McKagen also played on it – Billy Corgan penned a track – I mean, the whispers I’d heard were that this thing was turning out to be one hellava rock n roll album ! and then…well, there it stalled. And there it remains.

Why ? Well, at that time – Cherie was being managed by Kenny Laguna, who (after a 2010 gig supporting Joan Jett) apparently offered Cherie an album deal on his label – Blackheart Records with a tour to follow. For the rock n roll illiterate, Laguna is well-known for having managed the career of Joan Jett. Sure, he produced some hits in the 60’s for artists such as Tommy James and the Shondells, Darlene Love and The Ohio Express, but let’s call a spade (or a black heart!) a spade: he is most well-known for his management of Joan Jett.

Commenting on her current situation in a recent  interview at examiner.com, Currie said ‘for some reason Kenny hasn’t mastered it’ and ‘it’s still not being released and there’s not much I can do about that. Kenny wouldn’t let me play any shows after I performed with Joan either. For someone my age, a year is like five. Why wouldn’t he let me play? Even with the (Runaways) movie and my book, that would have been PR enough for me to be able to get out there and have fun and play Runaways songs, and say hi to the fans old and new, but he wouldn’t let me do it.’ Also – ‘I feel extremely betrayed by the whole thing. I don’t think Blackheart had any other hits out of that record company besides Joan, so it doesn’t seem to make sense to me’.  Makes no sense to Mr Rockbrat either. Currie continues ‘He just wants me to sign a record contract that I will not sign. It’s one of those 60/40 contracts that they own you for life. The record has been finished for three years. I’ve had to walk away and let it go and I thought the evil was out of this business. Joan’s record is coming out in October and it just blows my mind because she hadn’t even thought about making a record when I went in to make mine. I wish her the best, but it will be a cold day in f**king hell before I ever let anyone do this to me again.”

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Joan Jett caught in the Rockbrat lens back in 1995

Cherie’s comments made me furious – enough to sit down and write this post and I am left shaking my head at this situation. Should I care ? What’s the big deal ? Why does it matter you ask ? It matters to me. Cherie is a star. Full stop. She deserves better. I am also from an era where rock n roll mattered – it was all that ever mattered. It’s always been about the music. If it’s all about the music for you Kenny Laguna – you should go ahead and release her record. Consequently, after a frustrating two and a half years of waiting, Currie did not re-new her management contract with Laguna, which apparently expired back in March.

This all sounds kinda petty dontcha think Rockbrat friends ? I recently contacted Blackheart and asked for a release date for Cherie’s album, but as yet – have not received a reply. This is just the latest – in a string of strange decisions over time – from this man and his small record label which have left me baffled. A friend from San Francisco who runs a popular rock podcast has previously attempted (and failed) to get Cherie on his show, and told me ‘at one point I had an interview with Cherie lined up but apparently Blackheart told her she couldn’t do it’. Not sure of the real reason behind that one – but why wouldn’t you grant permission for an artist on your label to do a radio show ? Same deal with Joan – this podcaster is one of the biggest Jett-head’s on the planet – yet never seems to be able to secure an interview with her. A Kenny interview ? Yep, sure. A Blackhearts (band) interview ? no problem. But not Joanie herself. What’s up with that ? Maybe some at Blackheart still think it is 1982 and they can be selective with their main act ? Who knows. Off topic somewhat, buy another odd one is the amount of compilations Joan has released over the years – peculiar to say the least. There was sweet f.a released after 1994’s ‘Pure and Simple’ – but all we got were endless compilations – that rant another time folks.

An issue I also have which gets under my skin is Laguna’s apparent say in Runaways affairs. Can someone please explain to me the full extent of his involvement with the band and indeed their legacy ? I for one would like to know. For example does he get a cut from merchandise? He was listed as the executive producer of The Runaways film from 2010 – but apart from that ? Any legal ownership? He may have some kind of legal right over the Runaways – but not the moral right – (in my opinion) – to call any shots. (Especially with no band involvement in their heyday). Just calling it as I see it.

Actually, the making of that Runaways movie did not sit well with many. Guitarist Lita Ford was quoted at that time in Rolling Stone saying ‘I just want people to know that I have nothing to do with that film’. Ford also added ‘I’ve always loved Joan. I don’t know what the problem is with him (Laguna) – he really goes out of his way to f**k me up. I despise him for it’. You gotta admire Lita’s honesty folks. Incidentally – for all the hype around that film (which I dug, by the way) – nothing could prevent it from from fizzing out after a promising first couple of weeks in the cinemas. Online stats tell my miniscule mathematical brain that a $10 million budget lined up with a gross taking of $3 to 4 million is not what I’d call a (ahem) runaway success. I suggest you also seek out Vickie Blue’s ‘Edgeplay’ documentary (on the Runaways) as well – which includes honest and revealing interviews with most of the band members. Strangely Joan Jett was absent from the film. May I say how disappointed I was at that time when I learnt that she was not filmed for the Edgeplay doco (her decision I believe). Is it also true that Joan/Kenny would apparently not grant the rights required to air the band’s music in the film ? How sad. Even the Beatles managed to patch things up in the mid-90’s for their Anthology thing !

What do you Runaways fans think about the deplorable decision to pretty much ignore the role of  Jackie Fox in that film ? I-n-e-x-c-u-s-a-b-l-e ! How dare her contribution not receive adequate recognition! Yeah I know that film was pretty much based on Currie’s book – but come on. With no Jackie Fox, there would be no Runaways and her apparent omittance from that major film was an outrage. You may’ve got one past the unknowing 14 year old’s who trekked into the cinemas, but her absence was noticed by many like me. Runaways songs such as the blistering ‘Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin’ and the beautiful “Heartbeat” were co-written by one J.Fox ! She was essential to the chemistry of the band and she will forever be known as the bass player in The Runaways (whether that film accurately acknowledged it or not).

The relationship between Joan and Fox has long been rumored to be frosty – but things got even chillier back in 2009, when Joan Jett/Blackheart Records filed a lawsuit against Fox – which was dismissed some time later. From what I have read, Jett felt that Fox was meddling with the making of The Runaways movie. She hoped that the lawsuit would stop any continued interference. Ultimately the judge cited in favor of Fox. Apparently the filmmakers, (including Joan) didn’t secure Fox’s life rights before they made the movie. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox had asked (via letters she’d sent to the filmmakers) if her name/likeness were to be included in the movie. Jett apparently thought that Fox was unfairly attempting to halt the movie’s release and sued her for ‘tortuous interference’ (incidentally, the filmmakers had successfully secured life rights of former drummer Sandy West, ex-manager Kim Fowley and indeed Cherie Currie). Was it unreasonable of Fox – to ask/request/question the role of her character/name/likeness – and how she would be portrayed  ?! Judge for yourself.

As is well documented – the ladies in the Runaways never made serious money in the 70’s – none which went into their pockets at least. So a re-union could be great – couldn’t it ? For band and fans alike ? Apparently not. Recently, Joan Jett stated in LA Weekly that there was no point in a Runaways re-union, saying ‘she doesn’t see the benefit on her end’. Also ‘I don’t really get why we should do it – the downside is bigger than the upside’. May I state the bleeding obvious here Joan/Kenny. The Runaways ain’t about just you two. The Runaways are not Joan Jett and friends. It is indeed a band of five – Cherie, Lita, Jackie, Sandy and Joan. End of argument. Personally, the time for a re-union has passed. It should’ve happened in the mid-90s when Sandy was still alive. Not now. Not unless it’s done fairly for all involved.

I met Mr Laguna briefly a couple of times in the mid-90’s at some Blackhearts gigs – he seemed amicable. I recognise his input and legacy into pop music. I also acknowledge that he has been very good for Joan’s career. He has the respect of many in the music industry – but with decisions like this one involving Cherie Currie’s unreleased album (and his dealings in Runaways affairs), I – along with many other long-time Runaways fans – are fast becoming disillusioned.

As you can gather – I am a passionate Runaways disciple. I have previously interviewed Jackie Fox for the Japanese rock media some years back and found her to be friendly, honourable and decent. I also love Cherie, Lita Ford and have been a Joan fan for too many years to remember – always putting my hand in my pocket to buy new material. How exciting to hear a new album from Cherie Currie I thought ! Something I never imagined in the 80’s and 90’s ! Yet how unfortunate that the straight-forward process of releasing an album gets so freaking messy – why oh why complicate something simple ? Just let me rock.

Does Blackheart feel threatened that a Cherie Currie album could take some spotlight away from Joan ? Not enough room in the Blackheart stable for two Runaways maybe ? It’s a point which Currie alluded to in the Examiner interview saying ‘Joan really hasn’t had anyone else achieve the level of success as she has after The Runaways, but now Lita is back and drawing huge crowds and the original lead singer of The Runaways Cherie Currie is touring’.
So my question to you Mr Laguna and Blackheart Records is simple: when will the unreleased Cherie Currie album be released ? I am yet to receive a reply to my e-mail, so you are more than welcome to leave the answer below this article.

My advice to Cherie Currie is to re-record the album and have it fan-funded. Ginger Wildheart uses this method with great success – even breaking into the UK charts recently and outselling muppets like Justin Timberlake. I for one will offer you the first pledge.

I think I will end this post by quoting the lyrics contained in the Currie tune ‘Beauty’s Only Skin Deep’ which are: ‘I’ve been left for dead – by those who didn’t care – they never considered me or took me anywhere – I’ve got the songs to sing’. Yes folks – Cherie Currie does have the songs to sing – and the voice and charisma to perform them. She is currently out on tour and is in sizzling form. I encourage you to go and see a true rock n roll trailblazer.

http://www.cheriecurrie.com/

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runaways_1977_shirt_frontWhat: Runaways 1977 European Tour T-Shirt
Buy It Now Price: $7,920 US
Listing Date: September  2013

Description: VINTAGE TOUR T-SHIRT JOAN JETT 70s OG
Original The Runaways concert tee from their ‘School Days’ European tour ’77! THE REAL DEAL AND ONE OF THE RAREST/COOLEST TOUR SHIRTS ON EARTH!!! Pink lipstick kisses print on front! Excellent vintage condition with no rips, holes or stains.

Tees were made a lot smaller back then so please go by these measurements (unstretched):

PIT TO PIT: 16 (has lots of stretch to go bigger)
BACK COLLAR TO BOTTOM: 21.75
TAG SIZE: Medium
TAG BRAND: Bonito T-shirts

Little sister, unstrap your rollerskates – cos It’s Friday nite and we’ve located this rare shirt listed on eBay. What a great find – an original Runaways tour tee-shirt – from their 1977 European tour. ‘Waiting For The Night’ is my favourite record from Joanie, Lita, Vicki and Sandy. The asking price of $7,920.00 is ridiculous – but the fact that there are nearly 50 watchers on this item – indicates that this band are becoming collectable. Nice to see a complete listing of all the European dates they played on this tour – as displayed on the back of the shirt. That is an image barbed wire at the base of the shirt – which ties in with the covert art from the album they were touring. I once owned a programme from this tour, which woulda made a nice pairing. Amazing !

runaways_1977_shirt_back2

 

 

runaways_1977_shirt_back

ImageWhat is there left to say about Orianthi ? Every superlative to describe her ability and talent has been written. I watch some of her performances online and they often leave me speechless. Last year, Australian Guitar Magazine offered up their ‘Definitive Top Ten Australian Guitarists of All Time’ list. Having been a rock fanatic my whole life – monsieur Rockbrat is more than qualified to offer my thoughts on this ‘definitive’ gathering of six-string slingers. Angus is at #1 and deservedly so – he has his own style and sound. No argument there folks – and there are some other amazing players is their top ten as well, such as Tommy Emmanuel, Mossy, the great Rick Brewster, the Iceman, and Lobby Lloyde. The fact that Orianthi has already established herself on the world stage – is spoken about in the same breath as Hendrix and admired by the likes of Carlos Santana and Steve Vai – yet cannot make an irrelevant list like this ! Now that is funny and downright embarrassing – especially for a couple of the people on that list. How can you look me in the eye and tell me that that card-board cut-out ‘punk’ from the Living End (who shamelessly aped the Clash and others before him) – is superior to Orianthi ? Gimme a break. Or Ross Hannaford from Daddy Cool being named above her ! Now that is amusing. That geeky fossil may’ve blown the doped-out minds of surfies back in 1971, but really – just how influential was he ? Exactly. Whatever she shoulda been on that list, but I couldn’t really care – and I bet the humble Orianthi couldn’t either. Those in the know, can recognize just how special she really is. I am not going to give you the complete history – but her first gig was as a 15 year old supporting Steve Vai in Adelaide – who clearly knew that he was witnessing a once-in-a-generation guitar player – and it all started from there. Make sure you view her 2009 Grammy Awards performance – where she performed as part of Carrie Underwood’s band. If you can ignore the cliched, long-legged nonsense which Underwood carries on with – and close your eyes and listen, you will get what I am saying. The licks she lays down during those four short minutes would make Hendrix and Clapton jump in fright. She simply smokes, and without even trying – steals the show. Although landing the gig as Michael Jackson’s guitar player not long before – Orianthi, at that time was still relatively unknown. In my opinion, this was the performance which made many people sit up and take note….including me. I knew of her as the ‘Australian guitar player who landed the gig with Michael Jackson’, but shame on me for not discovering her earlier. So again, go to that Awards performance – close your eyes and listen to her playing – listen to what is actually going on along her fretboard. The feel, flair and natural ability which she possesses cannot be rehearsed and it cannot be taught. It is a gift. An instinct. Orianthi is a visionary who has magic flowing through her fingers. Fellow-femme players like Bonnie Raitt and Lita Ford (whom I adore) – do not receive the accolades which Orianthi has received. But being female does not enter the equation – her gender and looks are indeed irrelevant – you need to look further my friends. look and listen with your ears. When you have so many young women artists nowadays all vying to be the next Kelly Clarkson or discovered on one of the many ‘talent’ programs – it’s refreshing that the ass-kicking Orianthi is around. Let me ask you this – is she the greatest guitar player since Hendrix ? – Hmmm – that’s a big call – but in time, you will add her name to Beck, Hendrix, Rhoads, Clapton, Ray Vaughan, Santana and the like. That I can assure you. Until then friends, be in no doubt – Orianthi is the greatest guitar player alive today….

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Orianthi stealing Carrie Underwood’s thunder with amazing fretwork

 

ImageWhat: Runaways – Waitin For The Night – Acetate
Winning Bid: $306 US
Starting Bids: $50 US
Sale Date: 26 October 2010

Waitin’ For The Night is one of my all-time top 10 records. Recently, my good pal Michael Butler focused on this album on his ‘Rock n Roll Geek Show’ podcast. So I’ve been re-playing it this week, and am falling in love with it all over again. What an album. Anyway, an acetate copy showed up on eBay some time back, and fetched around 300 dollars. I have been a fan of this band for over three decades – they were trailblazers who forged a new chapter in rock n roll without any blueprint. Their legacy looms large. Anyway, the lucky owner of this item has a genuine rock rarity to cherish….and Mr Rockbrat is envious !

ImageFrom memory, I purchased this around 85 and it rules. Double LP, gate-fold sleeve, pressed locally via Concept Records. Around this time period, heavy metal was all I knew. Money earnt from my menial factory job was spent on metal records….and I’ve never regretted it. Actually this compilation really is a sneak peek at the barren musical landscape that was Australia in the mid-80’s. Hard rock and heavy metal was indeed – underground. Mr Rockbrat laughs when, nowadays, you run into people – straights, who tell you they went and saw Slayer on the weekend, or they have the new Sabbath CD ! Alas, metal maniacs, it was not always like this. Anyway, I found this gem whilst rummaging through my wax recently and as I cast my eyes over it, it got me thinking how much I learnt from it. Who needed school text books when the ‘istory of ‘eavy metal had to be learned, right ?!  The collection is pretty much a snap-shot of 83-84 heavy metal releases. WASP, AC/DC, Quiet Riot, Scorps, Sabbath, Twisted Sister, Ozzy, Motorhead, Dio, Motley, Priest, Kiss – big guns of the genre at that time, who all have tracks on here. But it was the inclusion of bands like Warlock, Y & T, Titan and Coney Hatch which had me in a spin. Often, the first place you would hear new bands was on compilations, and such was the case with Metal Madness. The Rock Goddess tune ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ – tuned me on to this kick-ass chick three-piece and I still listen to them today. Girlschool got a start – as did Lita Ford ! A rickapoodie and a fandooglie !  The Sabbath tune ‘Trashed’ was with Gillan up front – it confirms what I said before that the comp in fact pieced together some of the most recent releases from this time period (never could stomach Ian Gillan’s shrilling vocals). Points to the compiler – Grand Wizard Glenn A Baker – for doing that. The inclusion of local acts Titan, Boss and Melbourne’s Bengal Tigers showed Baker – or an assistant, had their ear to the ground, but the inclusion of Spinal Tap was not funny – or was it ? Is this a joke ? Is this a joke ? How the hell did Canned Heat get a look in ? Including the Kiss plodder ‘Get All You Can Take’ from their then-released Animalize opus, was a masterstroke in absurdity. ‘Heaven’s On Fire’ or ‘Thrills In The Night’ woulda been my Kiss cuts from that rekkid – but it mattered not. Adelaide’s Titan, as you may or may not know, released ‘Head Scare’ on Raven Records. I think some of those members ended up in Almost Human, did they not ? This release was followed-up by the equally rockin’ ‘Headbanger’s Heaven’ double LP a short while later. Again, the record introduced me to some great HM bands, many of which still get spun on the rockbrat turntable. As the wacky Baker states in the liner notes ‘ if you can’t get off on this brain-bending compilation, you’re beyond all hope’. Comments from the Super Coach.

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surely Lita is deserving of larger venues than these !

Tell you what, you could blow some serious money at the moment on the live rock circuit here in Australia. I cannot recall a time when there are so many bands announcing tours – a far cry from those days in the mid-8o’s when we had only the likes of Purple, or Queen, or Dio etc to cater for the rock hordes…..not that I mean ‘only’, I mean sheesh, I would give my right arm to see Queen or Dio nowadays, but the touring rock and metal acts who visited the Oceania region, were few and far between. It seemed like there was only one big show every few months…that’s my point….. But now ? Is the super-strong Australian dollar the reason behind so much touring activity ? I mean, I cannot remember a year where so many acts are touring downunder……here are some of the names locked in:

Deep Purple, Journey, Status Quo, Lita Ford, Joan Jett, The Darkness, Van Halen, Guns n Roses, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Deniz Tek, Motley Crue, Ringo Starr, Aerosmith, Robert Plant, Slayer, Anthrax, Santana, Blue Oyster Cult, Flamin Groovies, Buzzcocks, Steve Miller, Neil Young, Iggy and The Stooges, Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, Rose Tattoo, Angels, Bryan Adams, Steve Stevens, Bruce Springsteen and the great Wilco.

If money is no object – you could see some great shows…..

Is there really an audience still out there for GnR ? You be the judge, but having the bearded Texans on the bill, along with the might Rosie Tatts could make me think not….me thinks Axl and his cut-outs are in danger of being wiped off the stage. Another visit from Iggy ? Sheesh, go see Deniz Tek instead….better yet, just have Tek in the Stooges !  Surely this must be the last time Kiss will be here…please – make it the last time. Take your unsold ice-blocks back with you and leave us with our 70’s memories.

Damn shame that Aerosmith are playing a large venue in Sydney like the Olympic Stadium….oh and shit like Grinspoon should bless their lucky stars they are opening the bill for legends.  My only advice is to arrive after the opening acts have done their ahem ‘thing’ and just see Boston’s finest. Joe Perry back in Australia – it will be great to have him back…..

I am old enough to remember buying Lita Ford albums in 1985. Man, Mr. Rockbrat and I played the ‘Dressed To Kill’ album to death. We had some live footage from Lita of the song ‘Dressed To Kill’ and the video clip of “Gotta Let Go” which we taped off Beatbox back then which we watched over and over.  For a long long time, Mr Rockbrat only ever gave a damn about two bands – KI$$ and the Runaways, so it goes without saying that he was a devotee of Mr. Ford.  Twenty seven, (is it really that long?) years later, the black widow with the BC Rich Warlock is BACK in a big way with this, her new album in many years. And what a great album it is, without a shadow of a doubt – her best ever album. The songs are crafted and distinctive, her vocals are better than they’ve ever been, and her playing is superb. The theme or script  to the album is Ford’s acrimonious divorce. After several spins, she gives the listener a clear message that ex husband Jim Gillette is a blue ribbon jackass. Yet it’s not my intention to pass judgement on that. What is clear is that she has used the anger, pain and emotion to channel all her creative energy into creating an album of songs that are heavy rock of the finest order. Lyrically, it’s dark, and you can tell that she’s been through living hell. That’s testament to the writing process she went through to create this album, which involved working solidly for a year with producer Gary Hoey (Go check out the ‘Heavy Bones’ album he did in 1990 with Frankie Banali).  I have read some reviews that say Lita’s new album sounds like a throwback to the 80s’, but most of the reviews miss the point. This ain’t Helix singing about parties, beer and birds. This aint’ no Doro versus Lita debate either (put it away Coppen).  Sure, there’s a couple of riffs on here that are 80’s like, but that’s about it. Man, these lyrics are dark. If you didn’t know better, you’d say they were fictitious, but they aint.  In the opener ‘Branded”, with its cut throat riff, the opening line is “I Don’t Want To Fight With You No More”.  The scene is set. Killer tune, big hooks. The brooding “Hate” is another goodun, kinda reminiscent of something off KI$$’s ‘Carnival Of Souls’, but better than that. Comparisons are not needed for the songs best album, the title tune ‘Living Like  Runaway”, her ode to her time as a Runaway in 1977. Catchy as all hell, and one of the best songs Lita has ever penned. Perfect heavy pop (with a killer solo though). After going through such an ugly divorce, Lita is reminiscing and reaching back to fond times as a Runaway – and why the hell not ? Why shouldn’t she? She was so poorly represented in that film with Dakota Fanning, she has every right to reach out for her past. Word is she’s been trying to get something happening with Joan Larkin, and she recently did a video with Vicki Blue producing – so who knows? Never say never. Not too sure who would fill the drum stool though –  Roxy Petrucci? Anyway, the heavy wah on ‘Relentless’ I also dug, whilst ‘ Devil In My Head’ with its down tuning is just sheer brutal. The likeable, infectious heavy pop of ‘Love To Hate You’ is the surprise of the album, highlighted by Gary Hoey sharing lead and harmony vocals. Catchy, radio friendly and the ideal second single. ‘Mother’ is  plaintive, emotive and a message to her children – and it is utterly superb.  ‘Asylum’ is another high point. With it’s symphonic opening lines and melodious riff, I was thinking Maiden circa 1981 or 82– that’s endorsement enough. Again, lyrically, it paints the tale of the living hell she has been through in recent years, but musically – man this smokes.  Two thumbs up from Cowboy Col – 8.5 out of 10. Amazing album, one of the top ten albums of 2012. http://litafordonline.com/