Joan Jett

Joan Jett

Born in Pennysylvania moved with her parents to Maryland and then California, Joan Jett began playing guitar at fourteen and enjoyed the glam rock lifestyle of Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco in Los Angeles.

A founding member of the Runaways with Sandy West, Jackie Fox, and Lita Ford, they were joined by Cherie Currie with whom Jett shared some of the vocals. She also wrote or co-wrote much of the band’s material, the group being managed by producer Kim Fowley. Their big single was Cherry Bomb with Hollywood and Queens of Noise also selling well.

The group released five albums in total between 1975 and 1979, with Live in Japan becoming one of the biggest ever imports in the US and UK, the band having an enormous following in Japan as well as being popular in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada and South America. The Runaways opened for many acts, including the Ramones, Van Halen, Cheap Trick, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

In 2010 a film about the band, The Runaways, was released, starring Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett. By 1979 Jett was in the UK pursuing a solo career and recording three songs with Sex Pistols’ Paul Cook and Steve Jones, one of which was her first take on the Arrows’ song I Love Rock ’n’ Roll. She was also in Los Angeles that year as part of a film loosely based on the career of the Runaways, We’re All Crazee Now! During the project, which was subsequently abandoned, she connected with producer, and songwriter, Kenny Laguna, the two coming up with what would be Jett’s self-titled debut solo album and Laguna helping her to form the Blackhearts. The album was later released by Boardwalk Records as Bad Reputation. After a year of touring and recording Joan Jett released a second album, I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll. The title track went to No.1 in the States, staying on top for seven weeks and being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016. The albums Album and Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth came out in 1983 and ’84 respectively with string of US hits following as well as tours with the Police, Queen and Aerosmith. Jett appeared in the movie Light of Day with Michael J. Fox and released a further albums, Good Music and Up Your Alley, the latter going multi-platinum and yielding the top ten single, I Hate Myself For Loving You. Then came an album of cover songs called, The Hit List and later, Notorious and in 1994 Pure and Simple. Naked, Sinner and Unvarnished were released in 2004, 2006 and 2013. She worked with many artists over the coming years including Nirvana, The Who and The Foo Fighters.

Joan Jett has been referred to many times as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. In May 2019 Joan Jett was presented with her copy of Buddy Holly’s J-45, called Love Me.

Love Me was Buddy’s debut single released in April 1956, which had been recorded at Bradley’s Barn in Nashville.

Beth Nielsen Chapman
Willie Nelson