In June 1977 the Japanese caught Runaways mania. It was the moment we’d been waiting for — to play in front of truly appreciative fans, to stay in nice hotels, to get a taste of the rock star life. But there was a scary side to it as well and two memorable incidents stand out.
One came at a scheduled appearance at a record store, where we were to meet fans and sign autographs. We were supposed to be dropped off by limo at the front entrance, but the appearance was over-attended and the front of the store too packed for us to go in that way. So the limo driver went around back through the alley. Once we got into the alley, though, we discovered that it was even more packed than the front, but there was no turning back as the limo was immediately overrun by fans and the driver couldn’t see to reverse.
We inched our way through the alley, with the driver and us terrified we were going to run over some poor Japanese kid. The windows were rolled up and as the fans surrounded the limo and press up against the exterior vents, we started to run out of air, a truly terrifying moment. So someone cracked a window, at which point the fans started to throw things through the cracks, including a letter addressed to me, which turned out to be a heartfelt five page love letter. After about 45 minutes of inching forward in fits and jerks, we finally made it through the alley, although we never made it to the store as the record company decided it was too risky.
Later that week on our way to a television appearance, the crowds grew too thick again and we had to we had to crawl into an office through a window, walk down five flights of stairs and through a basement with a very low ceiling which led into a kitchen in the basement of the building next to it. From there we took an elevator up to a department store, where we were hustled through the crowd and out the main door. Some of our fans, however, had figured out our escape path and were waiting for us. They chased us down the street until we managed to get away long enough to make it back to our hotel, where yet more fans were waiting and we had to run through the back entrance. It really was like a scene out of Help!, both fun and scary at the same time.