Synopsis of Pop Music
"I love rock and roll,
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby,
I love rock and roll,
So come and take your time and dance with me..."
There are many female musicians, but few genuine female rockers. Joan Jett bucked this trend and pursued straight-ahead rock and roll at a time when it was more fashionable for women to pursue gentler sounds like soft-rock and disco. In the process, she recorded several major hits and became an icon to future femme-rockers like L-7 and Bikini Kill. For many, Joan Jett will always be the original ‘grrl-rocker.’
Jett got her start at the tender age of 15 as the guitarist for the seminal female-rock group the Runaways. This quartet, which also included a young Lita Ford in its lineup, recorded the classic “Cherry Bomb,” among others. Jett played with the group until they disbanded in 1980. She then independently recorded her first solo album, Bad Reputation, with the help of Paul Cook and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. It was a solid slab of punkish hard-rockers like the title track and Joan’s cover of the Gary Glitter classic “Do You Wanna Touch Me,” the latter becoming an early MTV favorite.
The next year, Joan Jett formed a backing group called the Blackhearts and landed a record contract. She hit big in 1982 with “I Love Rock and Roll,” a snarling hard-rock update of an obscure glam rock song. It became an instant rock anthem and stayed at the #1 spot on the pop charts for 7 weeks. Joan Jett also became a pin-up attraction in teen magazines around this time, and her love of black-leather clothing influenced both male and female rockers. Jett also scored hits in 1982 with a guitar-heavy remake of “Crimson and Clover” and a reissue of “Do You Wanna Touch Me” (aided by its heavy rotation on MTV).
In 1983, Joan Jett released Album and had back-to-back Top-40 hits with the self-penned "Fake Friends" and a cover of Sly Stone’s “Everyday People.” She later collaborated with the Beach Boys, who lent their airy harmonies to “Good Music” in 1986. The next year, she made her acting debut in Light Of Day, a serious drama in which she played sister and rock bandmate to Michael J. Fox. Jett also performed the film’s theme song, which was written by none other than Bruce Springsteen.
Joan Jett stormed the Top-10 in 1988 with “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” a stomping shout-along rocker from the Up Your Alley album. She also hit the Top-20 with “Little Liar.” In 1990, she released an all-covers album called The Hit List, which featured her versions of classics by AC/DC, the Kinks and the Sex Pistols.
By the 90’s, Joan Jett had become a cult idol to a group of young, all-female rockers known as the ‘grrl-rock’ movement. She performed with L-7, recorded a live album with Seattle femme-punkers the Gits, and collaborated with Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill on songs for her next album. The result was Pure and Simple, Jett’s most critically-praised album in years. She also contributed songs to the soundtracks of Tank Girl and Mr. Wrong. Most recently, Joan Jett reunited with the Blackhearts for Fetish. Twenty years after beginning her solo career, Joan Jett rocks on.
Artist Release History1980 - Joan Jett
1981 - Bad Reputation
1981 - I Love Rock & Roll
1982 - I Love Playing with Fire
1983 - Album
1984 - Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth
1986 - Good Music
1988 - Up Your Alley
1990 - The Hit List
1991 - Notorious
1994 - Pure and Simple
1997 - Fit to Be Tied: Great Hits by Joan Jett
1999 - Fetish
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsFit To Be Tied: Great Hits By Joan Jett (Polygram)
Band MembersJoan Jett vocals, guitar
Ricky Byrd guitar
Gary Ryan bass
Lee Crystal drums