This wild ride of a memoir takes us from Currie's suburban upbringing as a young rebel, dyeing her hair red, white and blue and dressing up as her idol, David Bowie, to, in a turn that is dramatically sudden, being asked to audition for The Runaways by Kim Fowley and Joan Jett while at her local hangout. All of a sudden, she's thrust into the big-time world of rock music, and the pace is hectic, with fame, and drugs, chasing the band.
The heart of the story is Currie's quest to find a family who'll appreciate her for herself; her dad does, and, to a large degree, her twin sister, Marie, and older sister, Sandie, but she contrasts them with the sisterhood, of sorts, she finds with her bandmates. The growing infighting amongst the band, in large part of what was perceived as Currie's starring role in the press, along with her own increasing reliance on drugs and exhaustion from touring, help drive them apart. Her life post-Runaways finds her acting (in the film Foxes, alongside Jodie Foster), recording solo albums and, mainly, figuring out who she is...all while still in her twenties. So much happens to Currie while still a teenager that it's sometimes hard to remember that she is so young.
This is often a dark story, including rape and attacks that read like something out of a true crime book. Her evocation of shows overseas, in Europe especially, are some of the most vivid, including garbage and knives being thrown onstage as punk hit; you can practically feel the anger hurtling toward the stage, and Currie documents these times as vividly as she does the wildness of setting out on the road for the first time.
Kim Fowley emerges as the villain who turned a group of young, talented teens into a world-famous band, and while his actions speak for themselves, Currie also details the mixed feelings she had about him, at once abhorring him and appreciating the opportunities he gave her. Sadly, her teen devolution into a range of drugs continued for a while as she tried to break free of their grip, even after watching her alcoholic father die. This Currie, the one struggling for her place and her pride, is as much a player here as the one brandishing glitter and attitude onstage.
She is circumspect about some moments, such as her relationship with Joan Jett, writing, "She was my anchor. How do I explain about a person that was my best friend, someone I would confide in like a sister, someone who to me became a strong, sexual attraction? Well, it's easy. Just like how easy it was to be that way with her. I can leave it by saying that I had moments with a friend that quake me to this day. And they were some of the most satisfying moments of my young life."
These tender moments are few and far between in Neon Angel; much more drawn out are some of the horror stories that illustrate the dark side of fame, or rather, fame under the iron fist of Fowley. Currie's transformation from Bowie-wannabe to Cherry Bomb through recovery to mom, actress and chain saw cutter is fascinating and riveting.
on March 21, 2010
I was a fan of Joan jett from the time I was seven years old, ever since I first heard "I Love Rock N Roll". I didn't know anything about her early band, "The Runaways" till years later. I remembered Lita Ford from from her "Kiss Me Deadly" Video and her duet with Ozzy Ozborne on the song "Close My Eyes Forever" when I was just 13 years, old back in 1988. I didn't know that Joan Jett and Lita Ford were in a band together. I saw a documentary a few years ago about Joan and "The Runaways" about five years ago and decided to hear what they were about, so I decided to download some of their songs to hear for myself what they were all like. After listening to "Cherry Bomb", "Dead End Justice", and "Queens of Noise" I was blown away at how good these girls were, being that they were only just under seventeen years old! About two years ago I was watchimg [...] and decided to look at some vidoes for "The Runaways", cuz I was curious to see if there was any footage, of any of the their performances. I was totally amazed when I saw the video for "Cherry Bomb". I was like wow!!1 I cant believe that that blond chick with the white corset and thigh high fishnets, was only sixteen and strutting arond the stage like that. This was ten years before Madonna was wearing that. I was captivated by her voice cuz it sounded so mature for such a young girl. I was watching a video of Cherie Currie from 1987 I believe, and she was on the "Sally Jessie Rafael Show" sharing her testimony about her early youth in the Runaways and then she talked about the drugs and about her she kicked drugs ans all that and how she was working at that time as a drug counslor for teens. I was totally impressed with her honesty. I decided a couple weeks ago to buy her book called "Neon Angel: A memoir of a Runaway. after getting it through Amazon last week I could wait to read it. I just finished reading it yesterday and I was so overtaken with with her personal story of youth gone wild, her rape at 14 years old, her relationship with her family, her being discovered at the Sugar Shack Club by Kim Fowely and Joan Jett and then being recruited into "The Runaways". Her struggle to get along with the girls (especially Lita Ford who always antagonizing and was always bullying her), her temptations and personal demons with drugs which would destroy the fabric of the band and her relationship with her family. She went through so much in so little time at just before the age of 18 years old that it's hard to comprehend how she even today, is even alive to tell the tale. You will enjoy this amazing and captivating story of innocence lost, Family bond, personal struggle to be sober and to regain back her life, and coming out of it all. This is a remarkable story with an even amazing remarkable journey through hell and finally, redemption. I totally recommend this book. I can't wait to see the movie.
on March 27, 2010
Cherie Currie's memoir is a roller coaster ride that's far beyond what most people will ever experience. She had more horrible things happen to her as a teenager than ten average people would have in an entire lifetime. A lack of parental supervision, a rebellious nature, and life on the road as a member of the Runaways led to many experiences that will simply make your jaw drop. I thought that Cherie losing her virginity at fourteen by being raped by her twin sister's boyfriend must be the low point of the book, but, incredibly enough, it gets much worse. After she joined the Runaways, she had to deal with the sleazy Kim Fowley and other people, and she fell into drug abuse which lasted for many years. Her attempt at becoming a rock star wasn't nearly as successful or lucrative as it should have been, but she somehow managed to survive her many bad experiences and drug addiction. I'm glad she made it through to the other side and got her life together, and I'm very glad that she wrote such a powerful memoir. It's a stunning piece of work. I'm sure the new Runaways movie will show some of the dark side of her life, but I'm also sure it will be a Disney story compared to this book. Buy this book and prepare to be astounded.
on May 23, 2010
I was very much looking forward to starting this book and although I was already familiar with some of the material there was also so much more to discover for the first time. I was not disappointed at all with the book and found it to be an engrossing read throughout, Cherie Currie's story is very unique.
The young Cherie could be described as a teenage rebel with a heart of gold who was obsessed with David Bowie before her life was changed forever when she was asked to audition for the Runaways, the first all girl teenage rock band. After joining the group, managed by the notorious Kim Fowley, the rock and fame game was quickly exposed as a never ending slog of recording and touring with the girls worked non stop by the unforgiving Fowley who basically took advantage of them at every turn while bleeding them dry. To help them keep up with the demands of the schedule the group were plied with drugs pretty much every day on tour and inevitably this had repurcussions for most of them later in life as the book goes on to detail.
After only around 3 years or so with the group and only moderate success Cherie left and immediately tried a solo career again under the guidance of Fowley but with little success. Unfortunately the Runaways were never accepted by the music press as anything other than a novelty act put together for Kim Fowleys amusement, which is a shame as they blazed the trail and made some kick ass rock n roll into the bargain. She then dabbled in acting and was probably the best thing in the 1980 movie Foxes, a teen movie which tried to show what the youth of that period were going through, which co-starred Jodie Foster. A couple of cheapie horrors followed before her chronic cocaine abuse saw her promising acting career all but destroyed as her unreliability saw her name become mud in both the film and music worlds. A disastrous duets type album with her sister was also a bad idea.
What struck me as I read this book was how strong and tough Cherie has been to come through all she has, especially much of it happening to her so young, and come out a stronger person. Arguably the worst incident is the second rape, the first happened prior to her stint in the Runaways, which is a truly horrible part of the book but is still described vividly and clearly but at the same time sends a chill down your spine. I bet she still curses the day she agreed to get in that psychos car.
I feel that she suffered greatly in her youth from being poorly supervised and also just being incredibly poorly advised by the adults in her life. Often being more or less forced into things which she must have known were bad ideas or things she just didnt want to do. The part she describes about being coerced into sleeping with some "teen idol" by Fowley while on her period is just shocking, as is Scott Anderson, the groups "handler", getting her pregnant and then doing nothing to help her when her father suggests she have an abortion. Another decision, that more or less killed her music career, was her fathers insistance on recording an album with her sister which ended up sinking without trace and killed her recording career. Thats a great shame as Cherie has one of the most interesting, distinctive voices I've ever heard.
One of the most interesting and eye opening parts of the book is the chapter which covers the Runaways European tour, the British audiences being angry and wanting their pound of flesh. For 16-17 year old girls this must have been terrifying however they got through it, good on them. The way she describes the show they did in Glasgow, Scotland is brilliant and as I was reading it I almost felt as if I was in that awful crowd, with some moron throwing a huge knife at her feet. AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!
Later in the book comes the cleanup and recovery after years of drug addiction and her marriage and starting a family before finally turning herself into a chainsaw artist. All in all I thought this was a great read and one which I will probably return to at some point. Much of the story is definitely a cautionary tale as the girls in the Runaways all kind of got what they wanted at times but were ultimately made to work incredibly hard for very little reward and come the dissolution of the Runaways some, like Cherie, struggled to recover, and in the case of Sandy West never really got over the breakup of the group before she died of cancer a few years back.
The fact that the Runaways never reformed for even one reunion tour tells its own story I feel as clearly the wounds suffered by some of the members in that period obviously ran very deep and had never healed properly, even after 20+ years.
The biggest weakness in the book for me would be the lack of insight from Cherie into the music she helped make, only a few tracks are actually named and even then there is no great detail. Why not list the tracks from the Runaways records and then go through them individually with her thoughts, memories and opinions. This would have added greatly to the book and given more idea of how she feels about those records today but alas this would be my only real quibble.
All in all a dark tale which for Cherie at least had a happy ending. But careful what you wish for.....
Sorry if this review is really long but I thought this was a great book and a very inspiring story. Enjoy.
on January 23, 2016
Neon Angel read like a diary - it was honest and raw and kept me turning the pages. Some people might say that Currie was self-centered and that she caused her own problems, but I actually admire her strength and her ability to change the course her life was taking. It's a story that most definitely could have ended differently and does for many people.
The writing wasn't entirely impressive, but there were some scenes that I felt were very well described and there was a lot of emotion weaved through every chapter.
It's so shocking that at such a young age, someone could experience so many extraordinary things, both good and tragically bad. I had to skip over most of the chapter that detailed Currie's abduction and rape. I'm not sure exactly what happened there, but I knew where it was going, and decided after reading that it gave other people nightmares not to expose myself to it! I don't often do that and I can usually read through scenes like that, so that's saying something about how awful I knew it was going to be without even reading it! I can't imagine the strength and perseverance it must have taken to overcome not just one rape, but two, along with an abortion, and a downpour of other bad experiences.
It's easy to forget that when she joined the Runaways, she was just a child; an essentially parentless child who was trying to fill that void with whatever she could find. Ultimately she found Kim Fowley who would make her dreams come true and tear her apart all at the same time.
I really enjoyed reading about the Runaways and their life on tour. It was fun learning about a lifestyle I could only wonder about. Despite how difficult it was to read about Currie's mistakes and all of the moments she naively put herself in danger, I found myself turning pages quickly, not because I wanted the book to end, but because I wanted to read about how she got her life back on track. It was really rewarding to find out that she did, indeed, do just that. For me, its the end result (her strength, determination, and resilience) that made this book a memorable and empowering read.
Also, just to add - I think the movie would have been much better if it stayed truer to the book.
on April 6, 2015
As far as rock memoirs go, this was is really good. It's honest, enlightening and entertaining. What you won't find here, like many autobiographies by rock musicians, is the old oh whoa is me act. Cherie accepts full responsibility for her reckless actions throughout the book and writes about it with illuminating intensity. The early sections on the Runaways are entertaining, but of course, there could always be more on that subject. Once she gets to the part of leaving the Runaways, the band or its members are hardly ever mentioned again. That's ok though, because her post Runaways life is just as interesting and this book sheds a lot of light on those years. From her short-lived acting career to her ill-fated solo career and the "sister act" she had with her twin sister Marie. There are some dark sections in this book as well. I won't offer any spoilers, but let's just say that her excessive cocaine use led her to some very unfortunate circumstances. We all know it's a happy ending, however, and it's amazing after reading this book that Cherie Currie managed to come out on the other end as a true winner. Check it out. It's a fast, entertaining read on one of rock's underrated front women.
This book was intense and riveting, but difficult to read at times. It is a miracle Cherie Currie is still alive to tell her story, considering all that happened to her in such a short time. She is truly a survivor and I'm amazed at how she has been able to cope with so much adversity. Her mother left & married another man when she was 14. Shortly after, Cherie was brutally raped by her sister's ex-boyfriend, stripped of her virginity and left with an infection. She and her sister Marie made a pact to tell no one. As a result, Cherie turned into an angry, defiant teen. No longer the innocent surfer girl, she cuts her hair into a shaggy Bowie cut and overnight turns into a rock 'n roll rebel.
Discovered by Kim Fowley and Joan Jett, Cherie tries out for the Runaways, makes it as the lead singer, and endures 2 years of Hell under the cruel, sadistic, spirit-breaking leadership of Kim Fowley. But she also makes history along with 4 other girls to be the first all-girl rock 'n roll band. One of her low points was when Fowley pimped her out for an unnamed teen idol who wanted to sleep with her. Another was when Fowley forced the group to watch him having sex with a drugged-out groupie. After 2 years of grueling tours, drugs, sex, in-fighting, an unwanted pregnancy and abortion, plus Fowley's twisted iron rule, Cherie quit the band. She'd seen way too much for one so young, but the aftermath proved to be just as overwhelming.
For years after, Cherie struggled with drug addiction while she watched her father struggle with alcoholism. Her self-esteem had all been stripped from her while in the Runaways, but it didn't end there. Before she was cast in "Foxes", Cherie accepted a ride from a stranger at her favorite hangout who turned out to be a demented fan and a psychotic killer. After enduring hours of beatings and rapes, she was able to escape; then she was faced with the trauma of testifying against this psychopath in court. To add to her misery and pain, some family members told her to drop the case against him. It's no surprise Cherie used drugs as an escape from all this emotional and physical battering. A promising acting/singing career was ruined by her heavy drug use. The relationship between her and her twin sister Marie was strained for many years.
Amazingly, she turned her life around, getting off drugs, becoming a drug counselor, then fitness instructor and taking up chainsaw sculpting. It was not easy; she had several relapses along the way. I wish she had talked more about that part of her life as well, but the emphasis of the book is about her stint with the Runaways. You will have to read her story to believe it. Cherie Currie is truly a survivor, and I can see why her story was made into a movie.
As a companion to this book, I would highly recommend watching "Edgeplay", a documentary by ex-Runaway Vickie Blue, where all members of the Runaways were interviewed in 2004 or thereabouts. (I bought my copy here on Amazon.) Even today, you can see the damage the adult Cherie still has to deal with when discussing her Runaway years; at one point she says: "I hope that some day somebody will put a gun to Kim Fowley's head and shoot him. I can't think of anybody more deserving." Then she smiles slightly.
on February 27, 2016
This book is one of my all time favorite autobiographys one section after the runaways happened and she was attacked by some monster sticks in my head vividly as what makes up a survivor. She's a tremendous person who really bares all in this. Excellent excellent. She goes from the runaway to how her and her twin tried to make an album ( man when I was watching sha na na I wish I'd known then what I do now lol) if you haven't read this go out and get yourself a copy . I know Jett is notoriously publicity shy but I wish she would write a biography too they were my favorites of the runaways. I like lita ford I just can't connect with her the same way I feel that I connect with Joan and Cherie I mean close your eyes forever by ford/ Osborne is one of my all time favorite songs and yet her biography which is great didn't hit me the way neon angel did.
on June 11, 2012
I love rock and roll memoirs, and found this to be a story that did not disappoint when it comes to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. There are plenty of all three. Currie describes her experiences with The Runaways, letting readers in on all kids of behind-the-scenes stories. The most refreshing part is that she never portrays herself as a "victim" of the music industry or any of the people around her, she takes responsibility for all over her decisions and weaknesses, and reinvents herself, more than once.
A couple things I did not like about the book, I found the writing to be annoyingly young-adult style, especially in the dialog. The story is worth reading however if you don't let it bother you. Second, I would have liked to have gotten more details on the relationships between Cherie and the other Runaways when the band was just beginning. She spends much more time discussing her family relationships than she does on the band relationships.
Overall a good read. I wish it had been written a little better but would recommend this book to anyone who loves rock and roll memoirs.
on December 24, 2011
Neon Angel was a pleasant surprise. Admittedly, I passed by the book several times until I saw the movie based on it, The Runaways. Thankfully, I decided to read the book before I saw the movie. Cherie Currie's compelling tale of fame, addiction, tragedy, and recovery is a gem not to be missed.
The 70s rock scene was dominated by men. Just before the transition into 'glam rock' (re: David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona), Cherie Currie lived with her twin sister, Marie, and her ex-moviestar mother in the San Fernando Valley. During the day, Cherie would listen to Bowie and Susie Quatro albums; at night, Cherie would dress up as a trannie-looking glam alien of her own creation and go to Rodney Bingenheimer's on Sunset Boulevard. When Kim Fowley, an acclaimed and skeezy producer, recruits Cherie for one of the first all-girl rock bands with a young John Jett, Lita Ford and Sandy West, Cherie is thrown into the dark, tumultuous world of sex, drugs and rock n' roll.
My issue with this book isn't with the story--which will have you on the edge of your seat pretty much from beginning to end--but with Currie's writing; it's rather basic, repetitive and juvenile. She uses a lot of the same phrases and sentence structures over and over and over again. Her writing doesn't make her sound very intelligent, but that's more of a nit-pick on my part and doesn't really detract from the book as a whole.
Highly recommended. This book is much better than the movie, which focuses more on the dynamic of Currie with Joan Jett and the band as a whole rather than strictly Currie's life, which is actually a shame because some of the more riveting scenes in the book are either watered down/changed in the movie or left out entirely.