Rock 'n' roll motivators Cherie Currie and Brie Darling talk new album, Rock Hall's Suzi Quatro snub

Four years ago, Joan Jett entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This year, new inductee Janet Jackson implored in her acceptance speech to thunderous applause, “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, please, 2020: Induct more women!” That brings up the question if Jett’s trailblazing all-girl rock band of the 1970s, the Runaways, could ever get in. Sitting with Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM Volume, the Runaways’ former fearsome frontwoman, Cherie Currie, instead answers that query by surprisingly advocating for one of her rock ‘n’ roll sisters.

“You know what? I have to say this: Suzi Quatro is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I cannot take it seriously, and I don't want to be a part of it, unless she's in. Suzi Quatro's the first.”

Detroit rocker Quatro, who in the early ‘70s scored a string of glam-rock hits in Europe and Australia before becoming an American TV star thanks to her art-imitating-life role as badass band leader Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days, has been extremely vocal about her displeasure with being passed over by the Hall. Currie, who appears in and contributes the end-credits song to an upcoming Quatro film that she attests is “the best documentary I've ever seen on anybody,” is eager to add her own loud voice to Quatro’s campaign.

“There wouldn't have been a Joan Jett, and I don't think there would have been myself, or anybody else in the Runaways, if it wouldn't have been for Suzi,” Currie boldly declares. “I honestly believe that. If Suzi's not in [the Hall of Fame], I don't want to be in. … I just don't think it's legit, then.”

Joan Jett of the Runaways and Suzie Quatro in 1977. (Photo: Brad Elterman/BuzzFoto/FilmMagic)
Joan Jett of the Runaways and Suzie Quatro in 1977. (Photo: Brad Elterman/BuzzFoto/FilmMagic)

It’s typical of Currie to dedicate a sizable portion of an interview — set up to promote her new duet album with fellow power-singer and rock pioneer Brie Darling, The Motivator — to soapboxing for another woman in rock. She’s just that sort of rock ‘n’ roll cheerleader. Take, for example, the first meeting between Darling and Currie two years ago, when Currie lent guest vocals to the 44-years-in-the-making reunion album by Darling’s most definitely Rock Hall-worthy, Bowie-championed band, Fanny, the first all-female rock group to sign to a major label.

Currie had been invited to Fanny’s “When We Need Her” session by Suzi Quatro’s sister, former Fanny member Patti Quatro, and Currie recalls, “When I heard the song, I was just so impressed. I said, ‘Who the heck is this singer, and why isn't she a star?’ That was the first question I had to ask when I walked in that studio. … I beelined right for the producer and said, ‘Where the heck's the singer? That's all I want to know.’ I walked up to [Darling] and I said, ‘Brie, you just kill this song. You are such a great singer.’ This big smile came over her face. I think that broke the ice a little bit.”

The Runaways' Cherie Currie and Fanny's Brie Darling (Photo: Ken Phillips Publicity Group)
The Runaways' Cherie Currie and Fanny's Brie Darling today. (Photo: Ken Phillips Publicity Group)

“It's rare to have somebody who's really that open and forthcoming,” admits Darling. “In this competitive world of music and trying to find how you fit in and get opportunities happening, to have somebody, especially of Cherie's caliber, come in and be so gracious and say, ‘You're the bomb,’ instead of taking all the attention. … It feels really great. It's not normal, because most of the time, you're sitting in a room with somebody and listening to them talk about themselves!”

And Darling is just as quick to praise Currie’s talents, gushing: “When she first walked in the room, she has this magnetism, this charisma, that's just undeniable.”

But despite Currie’s charisma, and her pedigree — her harrowing memoir Neon Angel inspired the excellent Floria Sigismondi-directed 2010 biopic The Runaways, starring Dakota Fanning as Currie and Kristen Stewart as Jett — Currie, at age 59, had decided she was “finished with this business” before she teamed with Darling for The Motivator. “I had some pretty bad luck in the last decade or so,” she sighs.

Currie also reveals that there’s no chance for a Runaways reunion, since another Runaways member, Lita Ford, doesn't get along with longtime Jett manager Kenny Laguna. “It was hard for me to let that go, because I've performed with every single one of the ex-bandmates,” she says. “Unfortunately, I'm going to have to say no, it's not going to happen.”

The Runaways in their early days; Currie is on the far left.  (Photo: GAB Archive/Redferns)
The Runaways in their early days; Currie is on the far left. (Photo: GAB Archive/Redferns)

But now Currie and Darling — who has recorded and played with everyone from Carole King to Duran Duran, and whose band Fanny will soon be the subject of their own, Bobbi Jo Hart-directed documentary — have another shot. Their joint album The Motivator features some carefully curated classic rock covers like the Kinks’ “Do It Again” and the T. Rex-penned title track, but it’s one of the LP’s three originals, “This Is Our Time,” that really gets their message — and perhaps their peer Suzi Quatro’s message — across.

“We were having a conversation about how we were going to move forward with this [project], seriously do it,” Currie recalls. “I was telling [Darling], ‘This is our time, Brie. This is our time.’ I thought my time was up. This just felt so right. [Brie] just goes, ‘Ooh, I like that. I think that's a song.’ She immediately went to the drawing board on that one.”

Brie Darling in 1975. (Photo: Tom Hill/WireImage)
Brie Darling in 1975. (Photo: Tom Hill/WireImage)

“When she said that, it automatically meant something. That's such a rich statement. It is our time,” asserts Darling, who turns 70 this month. “We have this opportunity, which is amazing in itself, at this point in our lives, and I want it with everything I am. I want this.

“It's a time for a lot of people — women, anybody who wants to achieve something, anybody who wants to get something out of this — this is your time to make it happen,” Darling continues, “I think it's a good message for everybody: Take that opportunity, grab it by the throat, wrestle it to the ground, and just get it done.”

The above interview is taken from Cherie Currie & Brie Darling’s appearance on the SiriusXM show “Volume West.” Audio of this conversation is available on demand via the SiriusXM app.

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