Joan Marie Larkin better known as Joan Jett was born on this day in.1958. Parents James and Dorothy had their daughter in Pensylvania at Lankenau Hospital Joan is the eldest of three children. Joan was fourteen when she got her first guitar then her family relocated to California and soon after moving her parents split when Joan took her mothers maiden name Jett and the legend was born after taking in Rodney Birgenheimers Disco where she was exposed to glam rock and nothing would ever be the same again.
Jett teamed up with drummer Sandy West. Jackie Fox, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie and The Runaways were born. Jett was originally the rhythm guitarist and occasional singer but took on songwriting credits the girl group got support slots with the likes of Cheap Trick, Van Halen and Tom Petty and also toured the UK and Japan where they became massive stars. The band managed to fit in five albums in their four-year reign at the second half of the ’70s.
Jett also got into punk rock in the late ’70s producing the Germs one and only album before singer Darby Crash lost his life. the band also had one Pat Smear playing guitars who later went on to play with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. Jett managed to team up with Cook and Jones when the Sex Pistols fell apart and managed to get them in the studio to record some classic tracks when in London with the most famous being the version of The Arrows classic ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ which would go on to become the one song Jett would be known for more than any other. after shooting an iconic video to accompany the tune.
When Jett was a solo artist she also added the band The Blackhearts who managed to recruit some class players in the line up over the years but the original included, Gary Ryan (Bass), Ricky Byrd on Lead Guitar, and Lee Crystal on drums. One Track from the early years that has seen itself pop up over the years in loads of films is ‘Bad Reputation’ which appeared on that debut solo album along with the classic ‘You Don’t Own Me’ that also features the Pistols Cook & Jones. It was a record that showed many sides to Jett and what she was capable of performing. the album missed out on entering the Billboard top 50 by one place but it was indeed a start.
hot on the heels was the album ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ whilst it never managed to reach the number one spot on the Billboard Charts it has managed an impressive ten million copies sold in its life. it did however spawn the singles ‘Crimson And Clover’ that hit the top ten and Jett had her first number one with the Arrows track that carried the same title as the album. Jett is known for being happy to put a cover song on her records but this album was 50/50 original songs. Later Jett would pen and produce a lot of her records.
Jett still makes records and released ‘unvarnished’ in 2013 that was co-produced by Foo Fighter Dave Grohl who also co-wrote. Also, it’s notable that Jett wrote and co-wrote nine of the ten tracks on the record. this time sneaking in the top 50 as well is no mean feat for a rock record. It was also Jetts first album since 2006s ‘Sinner’ and prior to that was the Japanese only album ‘Naked’ which also featured RPM favourite Sami Yaffa on Bass guitar. Of the sixteen tracks Jett penned thirteen – one was a cover of the Replacements ‘Androgynous’ from their ‘Let It Be’ album.
Jett’s has her own model guitar which is a white Gibson Melody Maker, which she has played on everything since 1977. In 2008 Gibson released the “Joan Jett Signature Melody Maker”. which is some reward for being such an icon, not something Gibson hands out to just anyone. Jett is also happy to talk about animal welfares and is a big supporter of PETA, as she has been a vegetarian for over twenty years and is a supporter of environmental issues. Still making music and touring Jett continues to play with a biography and an excellent documentary being released last year (entitled ‘Bad Reputation’), as well as continued interest in The Runaways her legacy, will forever be passed down through time as a real pioneer for women in Rock and judged for her music and not who or what she is Joan Jettalong with Debbie Harry are rightfully regarded as legends and all Joan Jett needs now is one of those flunko statues and my work here is done. Put another (Joan Jett) record on the jukebox baby and raise a glass as we wish Joan Jett a happy birthday and here’s to another year and who knows maybe another album? That would be good.
Stream Joan Jett Here
What’s that musty smell? Ah yes, it’s emanating from the veritable feast of vintage collectables housed in the Pop Culture Schlock archive. For your delectation today I take you back to the Christmas of 1979; a seminal decade of music about to come to an end and give way to the dawn of a more brash, more brazen ten year period…
If you were a good, music-loving boy or girl in 1979 and had a.) done well in school, and; b.) not scratched your big brother’s vinyl, then there was a good chance that you’d find the Rock On! Annual 1980 nestled under the Christmas tree in your modest living room.
“The Rock What Annual?” I hear you exclaim, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed at your lack of knowledge on this subject because, truth be told, Rock On! magazine was a short-lived, oft-forgotten publication… if you’d ever heard of it at all.
Rock On! magazine debuted with an issue cover-dated May 1978. Debbie Harry featured on its cover and the mag – costing a whole 25p – promised a healthy mix of punk, new wave, heavy metal, and prog rock. It kept its promise too as, over the course of seven eclectic issues, Rock On! dished out features and photo spreads on a dizzying cadre of top musical combos; from Status Quo to Sham 69, The Clash to KISS, Rush to The Rezillos. Meat Loaf graced a cover, Ozzy, too, until Issue 7, with Jimmy Pursey as its cover star, and cover-dated November 1978, when Rock On! disappeared from newsagent shelves. The editorial in that final issue wrote of the outrage of cutting off such a desirable publication in its prime but, if anything, Rock On! was a victim of its own blurring of genre lines: readers seemingly wanting specialist publications dedicated to singular strands of the rock ‘n’ roll world rather than this ambitious crossover style.
That final editorial, though, did offer some hope for the future; stating that it was the last Rock On! “in its present form”. Fast forward to around a year later and, in the Autumn of 1979, the true final piece of the Rock On! jigsaw arrived in shops and catalogues to complete the punk ‘n’ prog rocking picture.
With a scorching hot live photo of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott on the cover, Rock On! Annual 1980 (price – £2.00) may well have been jostling for attention on the shelves alongside big-hitting television and film spin-off annuals, but it certainly looked the most badass. It was, the cover screamed, packed with pictures, facts, and quizzes on your favourite rock bands. It did not disappoint.
The heady mix of photo spreads and more in-depth features on select bands really did make Rock On! stand out from its competitors, and this annual amps that angle right up to eleven. The first photo spread was a “Tribute to Vocal Power!!!” (yes, with three exclamation marks) and featured cool live action shots of Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten, Cherie Currie, Pete Townsend, Willy DeVille, Graham Parker, Joan Jett, and Mick Jagger. A good start, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Next up, a photo diary detailing a “hard band” going “soft” as The Stranglers met their devoted fans, followed by a quartet of stinging live shots of “the band the critics love to hate”, Status Quo. Rock On!’s attitude to those Quo critics could be “summed up in two fingers” readers were informed.
With barely a pause for breath, a six-page A-Z of Heavy Metal feature detailed the prime acts in the genre, from AC/DC to, erm, Wishbone Ash. A-W, then. A few curious names in this run-down, too: Prism, Quartz, and Mahogany Rush rubbing shoulders with the expected likes of Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and, a firm favourite on the turntable at RPM HQ, Uriah Heep. A “Heads Down Heavy Metal Quiz” followed: a select question being “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees was a double live album for which heavy metal superstars?”
A Ten Years of Genesis feature followed, the first in a series of in-depth essays by John Tobler. His similar two-page spread on the history of Queen followed, as did those dedicated to Thin Lizzy, Blue Öyster Cult, Rush, and KISS. The latter, subtitled “Kings of Shock Rock”, wrote of “the forty foot columns of fire that emit from Gene Simmons’ mouth” and, c’mon, if you were eight years old at Xmas 1979 you had every excuse for then falling head over platform heels in love with the idea of the hottest band in the world.
There was a Rock On! reggae report, a fashion guide of sorts where the Quo’s Rick Parfitt spoke of his love of jeans and Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers of his love of raincoats (!), a Hi-Fi buying guide, a feature on sound engineers, a top DJ article covering John Peel and Anne Nightingale, plus one-page specials on Peter Gabriel and Ken Hensley of the Heep.
A photo spread of Ian Dury swimming (just your seven shots) padded out the pages, but not before an impressive photo set of live Black Sabbath shots appeared, a Star Cars article featuring Steve Jones, Meat Loaf, Midge Ure, and, ominously, Cozy Powell, a “Cult Heroes” feature detailing the likes of Iggy Pop, Nils Lofgren, Todd Rundgren, Tom Petty, and Bruce Spingsteen, and a “Sex ‘n’ Girls ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll” spread featuring Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, Siouxsie Sioux, Linda Ronstadt, Annie Golden, Poly Styrene, Stevie Nicks, and Rachel Sweet.
A “That Was The Year That Was” feature dedicated to 1978 was an obvious leftover from the previous year’s magazine and makes for entertaining if a little sombre reading amongst the other genuinely funny articles. Rock On! was a cool magazine, with its tongue firmly in its cheek and its love of a broad range of music at the forefront of any thinking. Your Uber Rocks, your RPMs are all subconscious descendants of Rock On! magazine.
No annual is complete, however, without a pull-out poster section (even if no kid ever dared pull a poster out of an annual!), and Rock On! Annual 1980 does not disappoint in that department. There are pin-ups of the aforementioned Pursey, Rezillos, Dury, Harry, Clash, and Lynott, plus Bob Geldof, Paul Weller, Freddie Mercury, David Lee Roth, Jon Anderson, Elvis Costello, Paul Stanley, and the Buzzcocks. Great photos too.
The Rock On! Annual 1980 may well be an uncommon piece in the average music memorabilia collection, but it is certainly a worthy one. Copies turn up on the secondary market relatively cheaply and, yeah, you should pick one up if you get the chance. The Rock On! staff were most certainly music journalist mavericks, and we’ve all tried to go there, right? Search for this precious, rockin’ tome… or you might never know how Rick Parfitt’s aunt ironed his double denim.
Thanks for reading, and for the feedback on my first column on the debut Alice Cooper comic. I’ll be back next month with something suitably archaic that the rock ‘n’ roll world tried to forget. Search for Pop Culture Schlock 365 on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook
So everyone loves Joan Jett right? Of course they do, what’s not to like? With a reputation that seems to grow on a daily basis, Joan Jett has endured several musical climate changes and still remained cool, respected by her peers and adored by her fans. It seemed only a matter of time that a film in her honor would be made so ‘Dogwoof’ decided to take it upon themselves to carry that torch and just get it done in a shade over ninety minutes her life is there for all to see on the silver screen or in your living room as is now the case.
So popcorn at the ready dim the lights and let’s turn on and tune out its time for ‘Bad Reputation’…Some big hitting talking heads as we go back to day one with Jett. Back in the ’70s when Jett started The Runaways I guess u blokes won’t have a clue what it would have been like for an all-girl group it must have been twice as hard and must have taken some resolve just to survive let alone thrive but Jett comes across as single-minded and driven and then punk came to town and was a real game-changer for lots of reasons. I loved seeing the footage of early Blackhearts gigs and hearing the news from the band which was very cool. Even Joan Jett got twenty-two rejection letters from record companies even at that time they didn’t do it for the money they just wanted to get a record out there. It seemed like an industry that was and possibly still is obsessed with sexuality and Jett has had to fight against that all her career. Some of those interviews and their banal line of questions seem so out of step today and they should have been then as well. Footage of the early JJ&TBH playing on Sunset Strip is so raw and in your face.
Releasing their own records and selling out through reputation and just being good at what they do is such an inspiration even now it gives you goosebumps.and the iconic video for I Love Rock N Roll and the look was inspirational and it seemed like all of a sudden the stars aligned and the band took off. Great moments in Rock N Roll history and all of a sudden it seemed the world had forgotten she was the frontwoman and kudos was beginning to be shown. Maybe the UK wasn’t so obsessed with what sex a singer was as much as it seemed to matter in the States and Jett took hold on this island with the likes of Bowie jumping up on stage and being taken seriously by the radio and music fans alike. I think the movie captures this for sure and having the likes of Billie Joe, Iggy and Dave Grohl all having a say shows the huge respect she has from her peers in the industry.
I also forgot Jett tried her hand at acting I guess ultimately shes as punk as it gets from starting a rock n roll band to starting her own label to acting she did what was true to herself and was honest and comes across as sincere and a loyal ally but ultimately she will be remembered for being a rock and roller, not a bird in a Rock n Roll band or some chic with a guitar. The movie does tell her story in 90 minutes even if it was a lot to tell shes had some amazing musicians around her her whole career and that’s no accident either it might not be the most incredible or outrageous rock n roll story but it is certainly one worth telling and makes great TV. The only downside is the lack of extras and I guess these days it would have been easy to tag on a rare live show or one from her own archive or complete videography, bloopers who knows just a little more bang for your buck I guess. Fans will watch it and just get it and non-fans can kiss my ass Joan Jett is da bomb and one thing I know for sure is ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ just like Joan does.
As the nights draw in and we speed towards Christmas and the mornings get darker and colder what better way to soundtrack the trip to work than with three of the best from three of our favourite bands.
Up first has to be a topical one from this past week as Generation Sex took the stage to perform some classic tunage it simply wouldn’t be fair to pass up this opportunity to play this classic from 79
Another classic from the vaults and topical seeing as a new movie hit the theatres this week the movie in question is Bad Reputation and that can only mean Joan Fuckin’ Jett!
Now settle down boys and girls because to finish off this awesome and uplifting trio of video smashes is Role Models and a song from their last album ‘Manette Street’ which also appears on Ginge Knevils charity album that can be purchased here