This Friday, Dec. 6 pioneering rock n’ roll frontwoman Cherie Currie returns to her humble beginnings here on The Sunset Strip for a very special Toys for Tots benefit show at the Viper Room.
Before heading out to “Rock This Christmas Down” and sing-a-long to all your favorite youthful angst anthems, catch up with Currie as she reminisces about her early days on The Sunset Strip, talks about a possible Runaways reunion and shares her newfound love of…chainsaw carving?
Paint us a picture of what The Strip was like in the mid-seventies when The Runaways were first getting started?
My goodness, it was just a completely different time… It was a magical time in music. There were bands like Zeppelin and [David] Bowie and Elton [John] and Suzi Quatro, Alice Cooper… I mean just heroes! And the clubs were wonderful. … They scouted good talent and worked to bring that talent to their clubs.
Do you remember your first show ever on The Strip?
We played the Whisky and we actually broke the record there! I remember the music editor for the L.A. Times was there and did a feature article on us that was pages long…and it was just an amazing night. Kids were hanging from the rafters, practically. At the time, it was the largest crowd they had ever had at the Whisky.
You actually have a new Christmas single that was just released, that you recorded with your former bandmate Lita Ford. Tell us about that.
Yeah, it’s called “Rock This Christmas Down” [and Lita wrote it] with guitarist Mitch Perry. She called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to do a duet with her on this Christmas song… And I was on tour, but said, “absolutely!”
So I literally flew in after the finish of my tour and went directly from the airport to the studio – never heard the song before – walked in and was just blown away by how great the song was. And it was fun to have Lita produce my vocals. She’s awesome! I’m really very proud to not only be working with her again, but to be on such a great tune.
It seems like the relationships between you and the other members of the band are all pretty healthy. Any talks of a reunion?
Well Lita and I want to do a reunion, but Joan however is not quite sold on the idea at this point… But Lita and I are going to continue to keep working together and hopefully Joan sees that we’re having so much fun, that maybe she might change her mind. Right now though, we’re just focusing on us, and working and enjoying each other’s company making great music together.
I’ve also actually started making a record with [former Runaways manager/producer] Kim Fowley and Lita is involved with that… It’s kind of like taking a hole in your heart from way back when you were a child and filling it with beautiful possibilities and new relationships. Relationships that I thought were done and over and didn’t end well, and turning them into something I really wouldn’t want to live without today.
Now, The Runaways movie was based on your bio Neon Angel. How did you feel about the film? Were you happy with the end result?
Well how do you take two and a half years of absolute insanity and condense it into an hour and a half? I think that the actors were phenomenal. I’m so proud of Dakota [Fanning] and Kristen [Stewart] and Michael Shannon. They were just great! I think [director Floria Sigismondi] visually couldn’t have captured the ’70s better…
I was very happy that my new book [an updated re-release of 1989’s Neon Angel] was coming out at the same time the film was coming out, so that people could get the real story and the details behind the film. But like I said, an hour and a half just isn’t enough to even scratch the surface… All of our lives were complicated as kids… I’m just glad that people cared enough to make this movie happen, and that we have a whole new fanbase of younger people that appreciate what The Runaways did at a very young age.
In recent years you’ve taken up chainsaw carving. How did you discover that?
Well I sort of went from sketching to painting to relief carving…and then one day I was headed to the beach and passed a couple of guys chainsaw carving on the side of the road and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. So I went into their gallery and saw these amazing pieces of finely detailed, gorgeous art. And my little voice just kept telling me, “You can do this.”
So against my family’s advice and everyone else’s advice – ‘cause you have to admit it’s quite dangerous – I couldn’t help it! I had to face that fear… And my third piece was accepted into the Malibu Art Expo, and I started competing and placing in competitions and I realized that this was a calling…
Dolly Parton has a few… Dakota Fanning, I carved her a guitar – actually to scale – and presented it to her for her sixteenth birthday.
Anything special this year that you’re really looking forward to this Christmas?
Well this Christmas, being able to spend it with Lita Ford and have her in my life is the best gift I’ve had in decades.
Cherie Currie, along with special guest Future Villains, perform a benefit show for Toys for Tots this Friday, Dec. 6 at The Viper Room. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 GA. Bring an unwrapped toy to the show valued at $10 or more and receive a complimentary cocktail. www.viperroom.com For more info about Cherie Currie, visit chainsawchick.com and cheriecurrie.com.
In case you missed it, here are some mega highlights from the week we just had!
–The Roxy turned 40! That’s four decades of amazing performances and music. From Neil Young performing during the opening night to Bob Marley’s “Live From The Roxy” album and live show, Frank Zappa, Pee Wee Herman, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jane’s Addiction, Adele, Alabama Shakes and so.many.more. What an amazing celebration! Check out The Roxy’s YouTube playlist for some of the live shows you may have missed.
-“Springbreaker” Vanessa Hudgens turned heads with a wild show at Bootsy Bellows on Tuesday night.
-The New York Times featured some vintage rock and roll and Sunset Strip images.
-Sunset Strip “hometown hero” Slash was interviewed at the Sunset Marquis about his new movie.
–Robert Patterson was spotted at the Viper Room on a date with Sean Penn’s daughter.
Photo courtesy of The Roxy
• Danny Curnen, “The Eliminator”
Mixed media guitar inspired by the music and influence of rock and roll band ZZ Top. (Performances at Whisky, House of Blues Sunset Strip.)
Graphic designer Danny Curnen was recently named one of the ‘Top 10 Poster Artists of 2012’ by Creative Bloq (UK). His design for Lisa Marie Presley will soon find a permanent home on display at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, TN. His artwork has been featured at legendary festivals such as South By Southwest, the Sunset Strip Music Festival and the Los Angeles Vegan Beer Festival, and he is the official poster art and graphic designer for The Roxy.
• Eugene Daub, “Call Me”
Mixed media guitar inspired by the music and influence of Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie. (Performed at the Whisky.)
Eugene Daub is the recipient of the highest National Awards for sculpture and relief sculpture. He is the president of the American Medallic Sculpture Association, and a fellow and board member of the National Sculpture Society. Over the last 30 years Daub has designed and created many public art commissions for the United States government, private foundations, universities and corporations and has exhibited in the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institute, among other locations. His sculpture of Rosa Parks was unveiled by President Obama on March 27, 2013, in the U.S Capitol, Statuary Hall. The concept and pedestal were a collaboration with Rob Firmin.
• Simone Gad, “Dolly Parton and The Sunset Towers”
Mixed media, abstract guitar inspired by country music legend Dolly Parton. (Performed at The Roxy.)
Simone Gad is a self-taught visual artist who has exhibited in local, national and international museums and galleries for more than 44 years. Gad is a six-time grant recipient and Getty-sponsored PST artist who was featured in Lyn Kienholtz's encyclopedia, “L.A. Rising; So Cal Artists Before 1980,” among other numerous publications. Her guitar is part of a continuing series of paintings that focus on Los Angeles architectural monuments and famous females.
• Tsipi Mani, “Unvarnished”
Mixed media guitar celebrating 2013 Sunset Strip Music Festival honoree Joan Jett. (Performances at the Whisky.)
Tsipi Mani is a multi-media painter and sculptor with skills working in oils, clay, acrylic, bronze, aluminum and steel. Her paintings and statues fill her home and can be seen in a Beverly Hills gallery, as well as in a few commercial buildings in West Hollywood.
• Juliana Martinez, “Don Jose, Que Chévere!”
Tile and mixed media guitar inspired by legendary guitarist Jose Feliciano. (Performed at The Roxy, Whisky.)
Juliana Martinez created her first mosaic at age 9 and was hooked. She currently creates public art pieces and accepts private commissions. This is her third contribution to the GuitarTown on The Sunset Strip art project. In 2010 she created a mosaic guitar celebrating the "Summer of Love” and in 2012 she created “There’s Something Happening Here” celebrating Buffalo Springfield.
• Kathy Rose, “Alanis Morissette Utopia”
Guitar embellished with semi-precious stones, natural material and mixed media. Inspired by the music and message of singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette. (Performances at the Whisky, House of Blues Sunset Strip.)
Kathy Rose is a recognized jewelry designer and businesswoman. She owns and operates Roseark gallery in West Hollywood and Santa Monica, and has launched Kaviar Jewelry and Native Rose clothing line. She also serves as the accessories editor for Foam magazine.
• Mike Shinoda, “Soldier In Repose”
Acrylic and spray paint. Linkin Park's first shows ever were played on Sunset Boulevard. In this illustration, the band's iconic "Hybrid Theory" soldier is shown in a moment of reflection. (Performances at The Roxy, House of Blues Sunset Strip.)
Mike Shinoda is a songwriter, performer, record producer and visual artist. He is best known for his vocal and musical endeavors with two-time Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum alternative band Linkin Park. Shinoda graduated with a B.F.A. in Illustration from Art Center College of Design in 1998 and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2009. He has a hand in most artistic facets of Linkin Park’s artwork and imagery, including art for the band's albums, merchandise, web and stage.
• Lyle Tuttle & Mark Phillips, “Tribute To My Friend, Janis Joplin”
Mixed media guitar celebrating the colorful music career of Janis Joplin. The design features her portrait, signature, tattoos and other mementos of her life. (Performed at the Whisky.)
Lyle Tuttle is a well-known American tattoo artist and tattoo historian. Tuttle opened his first tattoo studio in San Francisco in 1954. He has tattooed Janis Joplin, Cher, Henry Fonda and Paul Stanley among others.
• Kat Von D, “City Of Angels”
Graphite on paper and graphic wrap guitar using a modern day approach to the old school black and grey style of fine-line tattoo art. The guitar celebrates the prominence of the Mexican art culture that originated in the 1970s, here on the streets of Los Angeles.
Kat Von D is a renowned tattoo artist and the star of the former hit television series LA Ink, which ran for five successful years. She is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, High Voltage Tattoo, The Tattoo Chronicles and Go Big or Go Home. She is the creator of a popular makeup and fragrance line for Sephora. She is also the founder of Wonderland Gallery, an art gallery and boutique located next to her tattoo shop, High Voltage Tattoo, in West Hollywood, where she resides with her awesome hairless cat, Piaf.
• Stacey Wells, “Welcome To My Nightmare”
Paint and mixed media guitar inspired by musician Alice Cooper. (Performances at the Whisky, House of Blues Sunset Strip.)
Stacey Wells has become a familiar face on The Sunset Strip, recently creating a collection of art she calls “Reflections of the Strip,” which features musicians who have made it big after starting on The Sunset Strip as well as new, talented bands that are paving their way today, playing at The Roxy, the Whisky and the Viper Room.
• The Wizard, “Forever Changes”
Graphic wrap guitar inspired by iconic 1960s L.A. band Love. (Performed at the Whisky.)
Born in a nondenominational hospital to two able-bodied humans in the year of our Lord 1984, The Wizard has spent the last 29 years traveling the Earth, harshing mellows. The Wizard currently spends his time farming hair, clicking furiously and making dreams real.
The Doors’ founding keyboardist, Ray Manzarek passed away today at the age of 74, after a long battle with cancer.
As the honoree of the 2012 Sunset Strip Music Festival, Manzarek and the other founding members of The Doors were recognized by the city of West Hollywood and the legendary venues along The Strip for their immense contributions, impact and legacy that has helped make this fabled boulevard the landmark destination it is today.
Those who attended last year’s SSMF streetfest (pictured above) were fortunate enough to witness one of Manzarek’s last performances jamming alongside fellow Doors band mate, guitarist Robby Krieger, in the middle of The Sunset Strip—the place where it all began.
Tonight at 9:30 p.m. all the venues along The Sunset Strip will dim their lights to pay their respects to Mr. Manzarek.
Read our 2011 interview with Ray Manzarek where he humbly expresses how he wants to be remembered.