Something hit me physically, hearing a guitar. When I reached pre-puberty, 11, 12, rock’n’roll started to break through on the radio, and my ears picked up where they didn’t before. I started to notice songs like Bang a Gong by T Rex, or All Right Now by Free. I wanted to make those sounds. That was how it started.
The Runaways were hardcore, man. I had a clear vision: I wanted to form a girl rock’n’roll band. There’s no reason girls can’t do it. Girls just weren’t supposed to because it wasn’t “lady-like”. Our first gig was at a house party. I don’t really remember it. Once we were a five-piece line-up – me, Lita Ford, Cherie Currie, Micki Steele, Jackie Fox – everything felt more comfortable. Everything felt right.
Nobody gave me advice early on in life on how to navigate the industry. But my advice to people is to stay out of their own heads: don’t live in the future, don’t think about what just happened, don’t get stuck in negative thought patterns. We all do it, but the quicker you can get out of it, the better you’re going to be. Work hard and be authentic. Be genuine.
I grew up a tomboy. I was going to be what I wanted to be. It wasn’t my parents who put any pressure on me to do feminine things, it was society that was saying, “You can’t play guitar because you’re a girl.” Girls were playing violin and cello; so what they were saying was that we can’t be like the Rolling Stones. That’s who I wanted to be. Singing about sex, singing about rock’n’roll.
When I’m away I FaceTime with my two cats.
You have a band you write songs with, people who support you. You might get the accolades, but it’s never just you; you need to recognise that so you’re not walking around all puffed up.
I love being on stage and connecting with people. It’s the magic: you look in someone’s eyes and they look back and smile. You’re both in the same place at the same time. Music gets people through so many things; difficult, tragic times or joyful times.
British glitter music spoke to me. In the early 70s we went to London, which was a formative part of my life for the Runaways. We spent a couple of weeks on a houseboat on the Thames. Sid and Nancy would come over with the Sex Pistols. It was what you’d expect: crazy.
People are forever interested in my sexuality. If you pay attention to what I am singing, you know everything you need to know about me.
I got shot at by the Taliban while doing some military stuff many years ago. I guess that might count as the closest I’ve been to death.