Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Cherry Bomb By The Runaways Off Their Self Titled Debut Album
“Cherry Bomb” was written by Runaways manager Kim Fowley and guitarist Joan Jett for the group’s self-titled debut album. The title is a play on the name of their lead singer Cherie Currie, who was just 16 when this song was released. 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.” In an interview, Laguna said 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, 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 features a juicy dripping cherry whose stem is lit and sparking like a bomb. Beavis 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 machismo? 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 rock 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. 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.
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.