The Runaways – 1975 Demos – Nights At The Roundtable: Demo Edition

The Runaways - original lineup in 1975 - Miki Steele,  Sandy West and Joan Jett. Preparing to break a few glass ceilings.

The Runaways – original lineup in 1975 – Miki Steele, Sandy West and Joan Jett. Preparing to break a few glass ceilings.

Another long-lost rarity tonight. A demo session from the then-newly-formed Runaways, recorded on September 3, 1975. The history on this demo tape is a little fuzzy. It arrived with a box of other demos, out-takes and miscellaneous unidentified bits and pieces from other groups and artists. The reel was simply marked The Runaways with the date and the following tracks:

1. Yesterdays Kids
2. Secrets
3. Thunder
4. Rock n’ Roll
5. You Drive Me Wild

No other information – no studio, engineer or Producer. That’s it. As best as I can piece together, the band lineup is the original; Miki Steele, Sandy West and Joan Jett.

Just a piece of history that went largely unnoticed for a couple of decades, and then suddenly the importance of this seemingly innocuous tape becomes clear. A demo tape from a band in their formative months of getting together, trying it out in the studio to see if it worked and knocking on doors for an ear and a hopeful label deal.

The story of The Runaways probably doesn’t need repeating. They were to become one of the most important Female Rock Bands of the 1970s. Paving the way for countless women to follow suit – breaking the glass ceiling that discouraged women from being anything but singers, backup singers or singer-songwriter folkies. The Runaways were gut-wrenching Rock with a Glam twist – although they probably would be better described as anticipating Punk. Still, at the time they were largely dismissed as something of an anomaly, a marketing dream; nothing to be taken seriously. There were previous stabs at all-female bands, but they never quite broke out of the novelty stereotype. The Runaways were different – they didn’t look innocent. They didn’t sound innocent. And they came along at a time when Women were no longer satisfied to be relegated to certain invisible roles.

Time has since reversed the dismissal, and their contributions have been widely recognized as substantial and far-reaching.

But to get an idea of what it was like in the beginning – what a band coming together and finding a direction and starting from scratch sounds like – this is a great demo and an important record of a band in those early stages of evolution.

You can listen to this in a number of ways – the initial first steps of a band about to make a historic difference. What it takes and how things evolve, and the work it requires to actually put a band together. What a band starts out sounding like, and what they end up sounding like are often two entirely different things.

You can learn a lot, listening to these demos. The fact that they were recorded 40 years also colors it with a historic legacy. However you approach these initial recordings by The Runaways, they are an important historic record.

And no doubt, you’ll be hearing this one for the first time – even if you’ve been a fan, you may have missed this demo session. The good news is the rest of this demo session will be coming out officially soon, as I have it on high-spirited authority from Kim Fowley’s widow, that a special release of unissued tracks and rarities, like the rest of the tracks from this Demo session, will be available officially very shortly. So, to give you a taste of what’s in store, and coming to a vinyl dispensary near you, I’ve put up Secrets from that session.

Enjoy.

And while you’re doing that – please remember to chip in what you can to help Past Daily during their Spring Fundraiser. Our site and the archive these recordings come from put these sorts of rarities up all the time. It’s history; whether it’s those pivotal moments of war and struggle, or the evolution of a culture – it’s what we do here and we think it’s important to share it with you. If you like what we’re all about and want to see us continue doing it, chip in what you can and help us make a difference. A little goes a long way and whatever you want to contribute, remember it’s Tax Deductible and it helps us and you, come tax time. So please, click on the link below (Teddy Roosevelt) and make your contribution today.

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1 Response

  1. Timmy says:

    Kim Fowley could possibly have been the producer for this session, as he was instrumental in recruiting the later members for the classic line-up of The Runaways. Kim was also their manager for a spell. Thanx for providing this missing link. Joan was a speaker at Kim’s funeral & recounted how they all met at Denny’s restaurant, on Sunset Blvd., and strategized to begin their assault on Rock N Roll.