Get Ready for Joan Jett
Like many of us, my first exposure to Joan Jett involved Julia Stiles rocking to “Bad Reputation” in 10 Things I Hate About You. But this 80’s rocker’s talent extends far beyond Heath Ledger’s iconic chick flick. She has had three albums that have been certified Platinum or Gold and has become a feminist rock icon throughout her lengthy career. Considered by The Toronto Sun as the “Queen of Rock ‘N Roll,” Joan Jett is more than a song on the soundtracks to 10 Things I Hate About You or Crossroads. She’s a badass feminist who challenged the notion that punk was a men’s-only club and she’s coming here to show off her sassy, and irrefutably authentic, punk rock self. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4cFIzr85cU
Jett actually grew up in my hometown, right outside of Philadelphia, and found a passion for the guitar at a young age. At only 17, she became a founding member of The Runaways, who recorded five LPs, with Live in Japan becoming one of the biggest-selling imports in the U.S. and the U.K. Soon after, Jett produced The Germs’ album GI, only to, a year later, go out to pursue a solo career.
Almost two-dozen record labels rejected Jett as a solo artist. But, as a girl prepared to get to the top of the industry no matter the restrictions that barred her, she went on to form her own label: Blackheart Records. Once she took matters into her own hands, Jett’s rise to the throne of rock royalty began. In 1982, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” rocketed up to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for seven weeks, with other iconic tracks, like “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and “Crimson and Clover,” following shortly behind.
Later, Jett formed Joan Jett and The Blackhearts by placing an ad in L.A. Weekly “looking for three good men.” Unlike other popular rock bands, where women were relegated to the background or excluded entirely, The Blackhearts were identified with Jett. As the Blackheart’s founder and front woman, Jett and her band presented an entirely new vision of what a band should look like and what music should sound like.
Joan Jett reached her immense success all on her own. Hell-bent on carving her own road to success, Jett gave momentum and direction to the “riot grrrl movement” of the 1990’s. This movement, a part of the third wave of feminism, used the punk scene, as grounds for a musical revolution in which women could break through the industry’s gendered confines to express their own talent and vision.
Even now, Joan Jett is a legend. Look forward to rocking with this trailblazing musician, feminist, fashion icon, spokeswoman and all around badass on Friday, April 25 at Chrysalis. But until then, get familiar with her songs and check out The Runaways, a biographical film chronicling her first steps to punk-rock royalty.