Jackie Fox, bassist for rock’s iconic The Runaways, just shared a dark secret kept by the band for 40 years. We’re gutted at what she went through at the hands of her manager and sincerely disappointed by one of her bandmates.
On New Year’s Eve in 1975, The Runaways played their first major show: four sets in a small Orange County club called Wild Man Sam’s. Sixteen-year-old bassist Jackie Fox was two parts terrified and one part euphoric as she rang in the new year to a room full of kids just like her. It should have been one of the best nights of her life. Instead, it turned into a nightmare.
After the show, her manager/producer Kim Fowley rented a string of seedy motel rooms for the band and their “friends.” A nameless, faceless roadie spent the first part of the night feeding Fox Quaaludes. Once she was too high to stand or move, he left her in the care of Fowley, who first tried to pawn her off on another person and then forced himself on her in a room full of partygoers and her own bandmates.
“I remember opening my eyes, Kim Fowley was raping me, and there were people watching me,” Fox recounted to the Huffington Post.
Another member of the Runaways’ entourage, Kari Krome (who also claims Fowley sexually assaulted her), walked in on the event and yelled for Fowley to stop, but it was no use. At 14, Krome was just as powerless against Fowley. In the corner, watching the entire thing, were Joan Jett and Marie Currie.
“It turned into this really disgusting Grand Guignol–like theater performance that he put on,” Krome recounted. “And Jackie was dead, dead, dead drunk — like, corpse drunk. She was just laying down on her back, sound asleep, out of it.”
Of course, we’re not entirely surprised. Anyone who’s read accounts of The Runaways and Fowley’s management knew of his proclivities and of the behind-the-scenes abuse and hatred that ran rampant within the band. And, honestly, we’re not shocked that this wasn’t brought up sooner. Victims rarely come forward, and no doubt Fox only feels truly safe now that Fowley, who died in January, is no longer in the picture. It’s not as if we don’t suspect this sort of mistreatment of women and girls happens somewhat regularly in the music industry anyway.
While we’re heartbroken for Fox and what she had to go through to try to find her place in the world and in the band, we’re more discouraged and truly appalled by Jett’s place in all of this. While the rest of The Runaways have come forward to back-up Fox’s claims, Jett has remained silent. The only comment the Huffington Post was able to pull from the Jett camp was an insulting remark from a representative that they wouldn’t comment on Fox’s allegations, “as it’s a matter involving her and she can speak for herself.”
Obviously, we lay no blame on the younger versions of The Runaways. They were obviously too frightened to say anything and probably also aware that in the ’70s, they’d never be taken seriously. It’s truly tragic, though, that four decades later, Jett still refuses to have her former bandmate’s back.
Still think Joan Jett is a badass feminist icon? We’re no longer sure. But we applaud Fox’s bravery for stepping forward. Hopefully by sharing her story with the world, a weight can be lifted from Fox’s shoulders. And, perhaps more importantly, it will draw more attention to the shady things that happen in the industry and help more women become aware that they may not be alone.