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Joan Jett (born Joan Marie Larkin; September 22, 1958) is an American rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and occasional actress, best known for her work with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. She moved to Rockville, Maryland, in 1967 where she attended Randolph Junior High and Wheaton High School. Jett got her first guitar at the age of 14. She took some guitar lessons, but quit soon after when the instructor kept trying to teach her folk songs. Her family soon moved to West Covina, California, in Los Angeles County, providing Jett the opportunity to pursue her musical endeavors.
In Los Angeles, Jett's favorite night spot was Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco, one of the few U.S. venues for the glam-rock style she so adored. Jett became a founding member of The Runaways, alongside drummer Sandy West. Jackie Fox, Lita Ford, and Cherie Currie completed the line-up. While Currie initially fronted the band, Jett shared some lead vocals, played rhythm guitar and wrote or co-wrote a lot of the band's material along with Ford, West and Currie. The band recorded five LPs, with Live In Japan becoming one of the biggest-selling imports in U.S. and U.K. history. The band toured around the world and became an opening act for Cheap Trick, Van Halen and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. They found success abroad, especially in Japan. In 2010, The Runaways, a movie about Jett's band, was made, starring Kristen Stewart as Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. While The Runaways were popular in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada and South America, they could not garner the same level of success in the U.S. After Currie, the lead singer, left the band, the band released two more albums with Jett handling the lead vocals: Waitin' for the Night and And Now... The Runaways. Altogether they produced five albums from 1975 until they disbanded in spring of 1979.
In 1979, Jett was in England pursuing a solo career. She recorded three songs there with Sex Pistols' Paul Cook and Steve Jones, one of which was an early version of Arrows' "I Love Rock 'n' Roll". This version appears on the 1993 compilation album Flashback. Later that year, she returned to Los Angeles, and met songwriter and producer Kenny Laguna. They became friends and decided to work together and she relocated to Long Beach, New York where Kenny Laguna was based. Jett and Laguna entered The Who's Ramport Studios with the latter at the helm. Jett's self-titled solo debut was released in Europe on May 17, 1980. In the US, after the album was rejected by 23 major labels, Jett and Laguna released it independently on their new Blackheart Records label, which they started with Laguna's daughter's college savings. Laguna remembers, "We couldn't think of anything else to do, but print up records ourselves", and that's how Blackheart Records started.
With Laguna's assistance, Jett formed the Blackhearts. She placed an ad in the L.A. Weekly "looking for three good men." John Doe of X sat in on bass for the auditions held at S.I.R. studios in Los Angeles. He mentioned a local bass player, Gary Ryan, who had recently been crashing on his couch. Ryan was part of the L.A. punk scene and had been a fan of the Runaways and Jett for years. Jett recognized him at the audition and he was in. Ryan in turn recommended guitarist Eric Ambel. The final addition to the original Blackhearts was drummer Danny "Furious" O'Brien, formerly of the infamous San Francisco band The Avengers. This line-up played several gigs at the Golden Bear, in Huntington Beach, California and The Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood before embarking on their first European tour which consisted of an extensive tour of the Netherlands, and a few key shows in England including the Marquee in London. Upon returning to the States, Jett, Ryan, and Ambel moved to Long Beach, New York. Auditions were set up and Lee Crystal, formerly of The Boyfriends and Sylvain Sylvain, became the new drummer. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts then toured throughout the US and built quite a following in New York. Jett and Laguna used their personal savings to press copies of the Joan Jett album and set up their own system of distribution, sometimes selling the albums out of the trunk of Laguna's Cadillac at the end of each concert. Laguna was unable to keep up with demand for her album. Eventually, old friend and founder of Casablanca Records, Neil Bogart, made a joint venture with Laguna and signed Jett to his new label, Boardwalk Records and re-released the Joan Jett album as Bad Reputation. After a year of touring and recording, The Blackhearts recorded a new album entitled I Love Rock 'n' Roll for the label. Ambel was replaced by local guitarist Ricky Byrd during the recording.
With Byrd on guitar, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts recorded their hit album. The new single was a re-recording of the title track, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" originally written and recorded by Arrows, which in the first half of 1982 was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks in a row. It is Billboard’s No. 56 song of all time. Jett released Album (1983) and Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth (1984). A string of Top 40 hits followed, as well as sellout tours with The Police, Queen, and Aerosmith, among others. After receiving her own MTV New Year's Eve special, Jett beat out a number of contenders to appear in the movie Light of Day with Michael J. Fox. Bruce Springsteen wrote the song "Light of Day" especially for the movie, and her performance was critically acclaimed. It was about this time that Ryan and Crystal left the Blackhearts. They were soon replaced by the powerful rhythm section of Thommy Price and Kasim Sulton. Later that year, Jett released Good Music, which featured appearances by The Beach Boys, The Sugarhill Gang and singer Darlene Love. Her next release, Up Your Alley, went multi-platinum and was followed by The Hit List, which was an album consisting of cover songs. During this time, Jett co-wrote the song "House of Fire", which appeared on Alice Cooper's 1989 album Trash.
Her 1991 release Notorious, which featured The Replacements' Paul Westerberg and former Billy Idol bassist Phil Feit, was the last with Sony/CBS as Jett switched to Warner Brothers. A CD single of "Let's Do It" featuring Jett and Westerberg was also released during this time and appeared in the song credits for the movie Tank Girl. In 1993, Jett and Laguna released Flashback, a compilation of various songs on their own Blackheart Records.
The press touted Jett as the "Godmother of Punk" and the "Original Riot Grrrl." In 1994, the Blackhearts released the well-received Pure and Simple, which featured tracks written with Babes in Toyland's Kat Bjelland, L7's Donita Sparks and Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna
Joan Jett – VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE – (J. Jett/K. Laguna) – Originally released on I Love Rock 'n' Roll, the second studio album by Joan Jett and the first to feature her backing band The Blackhearts. It is Jett's most successful album to date with over 10 million copies sold, largely due to the success of the title track (which was released as a single soon after the album was released). Early copies of the album released during December 1981 ended with the track "Little Drummer Boy". However, after the holiday season passed, the track was replaced by "Oh Woe Is Me" on most pressings. The initial CD release was in 1992 on Blackheart Records and featured 13 tracks. The album was digitally remastered and reissued on CD in 1998 and featured two additional bonus tracks.
Joan Jett – DO YOU WANNA TOUCH ME (OH YEAH!) - (G. Glitter/M. Leander) - "Do You Wanna Touch Me", also referred to as "Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah)" is a glam rock song performed by Gary Glitter. The song reached number 2 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1973, his third successive UK hit. The song was also used in The Runaways biopic of the same name. From Joan Jett’s first solo album, Bad Reputation, originally self-released in 1980 as Joan Jett after her previous band The Runaways disbanded, then re-issued on Boardwalk Records in 1981 as Bad Reputation.
Joan Jett w/The Sex Pistols – I LOVE ROCK N’ ROLL [EARLY VERSION] – (J. Hooker/A. Merrill) - "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" is a rock song written in 1975 by Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker of Arrows, who recorded the first released version. The song was later made famous by the hit version by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts on her album of that name released in 1981. The song was originally recorded and released by Arrows in 1975 on RAK Records, with lead vocals by Alan Merrill and produced by Mickie Most. In an interview with Songfacts, Merrill said he wrote it as "a knee-jerk response to The Rolling Stones' 'It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)'.
Joan Jett – LIGHT OF DAY – (B. Springsteen) - "Light of Day", sometimes written as "(Just Around the Corner to the) Light of Day", is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and performed initially by Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox with their fictitious band The Barbusters in the 1987 film Light of Day. The song has since become a staple in Jett's concerts, (Springsteen’s too) often representing the show's high point. The song appeared on the Light of Day soundtrack album. As a single, it reached number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1987, and it was credited to The Barbusters (Joan Jett and The Blackhearts) on the record label. It received additional album-oriented rock airplay due to its Jett and Springsteen connection. The song has also appeared on several Jett compilation albums.
Joan Jett – REBEL, REBEL – (D. Bowie) - "Rebel Rebel" is a song by David Bowie, released in 1974 as a single and on the album Diamond Dogs. Cited as his most-covered track, it was effectively Bowie's farewell to the glam movement that he had helped pioneer. From Jett’s Flashback compilation CD, 1993.
Joan Jett - BRING IT ON HOME TO ME – (S. Cooke) - "Bring It On Home to Me" is a 1962 soul song, written and recorded by R&B singer-songwriter Sam Cooke. The song, about infidelity, was a hit for Cooke and has become a pop standard covered by numerous artists of different genres. Cooke's recorded version has Lou Rawls singing responses as an uncredited background singer. From Jett’s Flashback compilation CD, 1993.
Joan Jett - YOU DON’T OWN ME – (J. Madera/D. White) – You Don't Own Me" is a popular song written by the Philadelphia songwriters John Madara and David White, and recorded by Lesley Gore in 1963, when Gore was 17 years old. The song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart in the United States.
The song is an example of threatened emancipation, as the singer tells a lover that he does not own her; that he is not to tell her what to do or what to say; that he is not to put her on display. The song has been covered by The Tremeloes, Dusty Springfield, Rasputina, Joan Jett on her debut album Bad Reputation, Klaus Nomi, The Blow Monkeys, and by Jack Killed Jill. Taken from Jett’s debut album, Bad Reputation, 1981
Joan Jett - LOVE IS ALL AROUND – (S. Curtis) - The theme song from the “Mary Tyler Moore Show”, "Love Is All Around", was written and performed by Sonny Curtis. The first season's lyrics are words of encouragement directed to the character, referring to the end of a previous relationship and making a fresh start, beginning with "How will you make it on your own?" and concluding with "You might just make it after all." The more familiar version of the song used in seasons 2-7 changed the lyrics to affirm her optimistic character, beginning with "Who can turn the world on with her smile?" and concluding with a more definitive "You're gonna make it after all."
In 1980, Curtis released a full-length version of "Love is All Around." It reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. The song has been covered by artists such as Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Christie Front Drive, Sammy Davis Jr., and Twin Cities-based Hüsker Dü, the latter who also reproduced several scenes of the opening on location for their music video. The song was also featured in a long-running commercial for Chase bank in the mid-2000s, and was sung in the TV series 7th Heaven in the episode "In Praise of Women" during the birth of the Camden twins. A dance version was featured in the 1995 Isaac Mizrahi documentary Unzipped. From Jett’s album Fit To Be Tied, 1997.
Joan Jett - CRIMSON AND CLOVER – (T. James/P. Lucia) - "Crimson and Clover" is a 1968 song by American rock band Tommy James and the Shondells. Written by the duo of Tommy James and drummer Peter Lucia Jr., it was intended as a change in direction of the group's sound and composition. "Crimson and Clover" was released in late 1968 as a rough mix after a radio station leaked it. It spent 16 weeks on the U.S. charts, reaching number-one in the United States and other countries. The single has sold 5 million copies, making it Tommy James and the Shondells' best-selling song. It has been covered by many artists such as Joan Jett and Prince. Taken from I Love Rock 'n' Roll, 1992.
Joan Jett - ROADRUNNER – (J. Richman) - "Roadrunner" is a song written by Jonathan Richman and recorded in various versions by Richman and his band, in most cases credited as The Modern Lovers. Roadrunner was also recorded by Joan Jett on a 1986 single, and again for her album of covers, The Hit List, 1990.
Joan Jett - REAL WILD CHILD – (O’Keefe/Greenan/Ownes) - "Wild One" or "Real Wild Child" is an Australian rock and roll song written by Johnny Greenan, Johnny O'Keefe, and Dave Owens. In 1958 the song was released as a single by Jerry Ivan Allison, a member of The Crickets, using the name Ivan.
"Wild One" was also recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1958 but was not released until 1974 on Lee's album, Rockin' and Free. His version also appears in the 1989 motion picture and soundtrack album for Great Balls of Fire and Nowhere Boy.
It was recorded and released as "Real Wild Child" by Jet Harris, former bassist with The Shadows, in 1962 on Harris' self-titled EP. A further version, "Real Wild Child (Wild One)" was recorded by British guitarist, Albert Lee, on his 1982 self-titled album.
The song was again covered in 1986 when Iggy Pop included a version on his album Blah Blah Blah. Titled "Real Wild Child (Wild One)," this became a #10 hit on the UK Singles Chart in January 1987. The Iggy Pop version was featured in the films Crocodile Dundee II, Adventures in Babysitting, Problem Child and its sequel Problem Child 2. Other artists to record this song include Status Quo, Everlife, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Glamour Camp, Marshall Crenshaw, Brian Setzer, Teenage Head, Albert Lee and Wakefield. A cover by Christopher Otcasek appeared on the soundtrack to the film Pretty Woman. Taken from Jett’s Flashback compilation CD, 1993.
Joan Jett - BAD REPUTATION – (J. Jett/K. Laguna/R. Cordell) - "Bad Reputation" is a rock song performed by Joan Jett and first released on her debut album titled Bad Reputation in 1980. Recorded Live 2/4/8. From Jett’s Flashback compilation CD, 1993.
Joan Jett w/L7 - CHERRY BOMB – (J. Jett/K. Fowley) - "Cherry Bomb" is a 1976 punk-influenced hard rock song by the all-girl band The Runaways off of their self-titled debut album. It is widely regarded by many as the band's signature song. Singer/guitarist Joan Jett composed the song with the band's then-manager, Kim Fowley, and would later go on to re-record it with her band The Blackhearts for the 1984 album Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth. From Jett’s Flashback compilation CD, 1993.