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Neon Angel – A Memoir of a Runaway by Cherie Currie and Tony O’Neill was exactly what I hoped it would be, a look at the dark world of rock and roll from the view of a teenage girl who was there.
Cherie Currie was only 15 when she was adopted into The Runaways with Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox and Sandy West. The chaos of the music scene, the desire to break free of traditional society and belong to something other is perfectly represented here.
Cherie’s life before The Runaways was something out of the ordinary – underage clubs, Bowie concerts and a journey to discover the self. However Kim Fowley took this life and turned it into something extraordinary, but also sinister. Fowley’s treatment of these young girls is, at times, almost unreadable. Much of this was left out of the film, and you can see why. The extent of the ugliness of the industry of the time makes for uncomfortable reading.
The fast pace of the band’s lives is highlighted in Cherie’s admission that ‘we were young and pissed off, and wanted everything right now, now, now!’ This also evident in todays society, and create a nice link between teenagers today and back then.
Cherie’s personal journey, including the break up of her family and drug addiction are just as interesting as the rock and roll scene. Cherie’s abortion left her feeling pushed out of the band, her fame resulted in her being kidnapped and tortured, and her drug use nearly cost her life. But despite it all she pulled herself up and became a chainsaw artist and fitness guru.
The downside to the extraordinary story is the writing, whilst it is raw, honest and manages to encapsulate the voice of a teenage girl, at times I felt it was a little too chatty instead of an honest conversation to expose the realities of a world that so few get to experience.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, to those interested in the 1970s music scene or The Runaways themselves. And yes, to those who are unfamiliar with The Runaways but interested in how a group of teenage girls gained an education far from what is taught in schools, and how Cherie herself recovered from it all.
Want to hear some of their amazing work – check out this post on Boppin’s Blog.