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.
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