“I hated being in the box—‘be here at this time, do this at this time, do it this way.’ I just thought it would be better to speak my mind, sleep a little later, hang out and meet rock stars.” After rejecting Jackie as lead guitarist, Fowley asked if she could play bass. system that never worked well enough to let anyone actually hear the vocals.She never had, but told him she would give it a try. She took three buses to get to the mobile home that served as the Runaways’ rehearsal space. Jackie plugged in and awkwardly started to pluck at her borrowed bass.
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It was like living inside the pages of Creem magazine. Spare change and scraps of paper scrawled with song lyrics carpeted the floor. He spoke rapid-fire, his arms a blur, his fingers poking the air.
One night in the spring of 1975, Rodney Bingenheimer, a notorious hanger-on and the unofficial mayor of the Sunset Strip, caught sight of Jackie and her friends on the dance floor at the Starwood. Jackie told him she played guitar, but when he wanted to know how old she was, she hesitated. “When the band is out together,” Fowley said, “they’ll wear heels and you won’t so you’ll all be the same height! ” Fowley continued, “A battle between you and the drummer over who’s gonna be the leader of the band.” He paused before making it clear that there was a good chance the drummer would beat her up.
Within several months, she would have to decide whether to quit school to join the band. Jackie was a straight-A student who took the SAT following her freshman year and scored in the 98th percentile.
She hoped to attend UCLA full-time during her senior year.
Jackie Fuchs became Jackie Fox—and Fowley became her boss, her mentor, her provider. “But you don’t know how to play bass,” Ronnie protested. Their skepticism faded after Fowley met with Ronnie at her home and explained his plans for Jackie and the band—how they would always have a bodyguard, a social worker and tutors with them.
He stayed up with her until two in the morning, wheedling, counter-arguing, soothing. “At that point I would have signed a contract for both my kids to be slaughtered in front of me,” Ronnie wrote her own parents immediately afterward.
But like a lot of overachievers, Jackie found high school dull and confining.
“The Runaways represented this freedom,” Jackie says now.
In 1974, when she was only 14, Jackie Fuchs would wake up way before her parents and catch a ride with friends from her house in the San Fernando Valley across the Santa Monica Mountains and into Malibu.
She’d hit the beach and paddle out in the quiet, pre-dawn dark.
To get ahead in the music business of the mid-’70s, to get your own Kiss Army and a chunk of that arena money, meant convincing a man you were worth it.