Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Biography:
Joan Jett was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as Joan Marie Larkin, but later changed her surname to Jett, her mother's maiden name, after her parents divorced. She later moved to Hollywood, California, where, when still in her teens, she first gained attention as the guitarist, main songwriter and back-up singer in the pioneering all-women band The Runaways, known for pre-punk hard rock and the classic song "Cherry Bomb." Once lead singer Cherie Currie left the band, Joan assumed the duties of lead vocalist. Although the band was misconstrued in the U.S. as a novelty act, they were more popular in Japan.
After the Runaways disbanded in 1979, Jett produced an album for Los Angeles punk rock band, The Germs, then embarked on a solo career. Although she approached many labels, not one would sign her due to the stigma that accompanied her former band, The Runaways, and so she and manager and co-writer Kenny Laguna created their own independent record label, Blackheart Records to release recordings by her new band distributed by Boardwalk Records, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
With the Blackhearts, she had several singles in the top ten, including the #1 "I Love Rock 'N Roll" cover, originally by The Arrows, as well as covers of Tommy James' "Crimson and Clover" and Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me". "Bad Reputation", whose accompanying video narrates the story of the rejection of Joan by major labels and the creation of her own record label, was also a hit. During this time, Jett toured relentlessly. One of the highlights of her live performance is the cover of the AC/DC song "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap". Unfortunately Boardwalk Records went under after the death of its founder Neil Bogart, and Jett and Laguna never received the money they were owed from the massive hit "I Love Rock'n Roll".
After making the two classic albums on Blackheart Boardwalk, Jett and Laguna signed to MCA Records and released the Gold-certified Album and the critically acclaimed Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth. 1986's Good Music was released for new label, CBS, followed by the multiplatinum Up Your Alley, which featured collaborations with noted producer/songwriters Desmond Child, and Ric Browde. Unfortunately Jett and Laguna refused to pay Child and Browde the royalties they were owed, and went it alone again following up the brilliant "Up Your Alley: with a very uninspired and unsuccessful follow-up, The Hit List, an album of all covers.
The Hit List was followed by Notorious in 1991 which included a collaboration with Paul Westerberg called "Backlash." Finally, in 1992 Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' first 4 albums were reissued for the first time on compact disc. In 1993, the retrospective Flashback was released on Blackheart Records. It collected oddities and rarities from the band's back catalog of hard to find b-sides and bonus tracks. Joan signed with Warner Bros. Records and released the riot grrrl inspired Pure And Simple in 1994 which featured the riot grrrl anthem "Activity Grrrl." Evil Stig, a project to raise funds to pay a private investigator to find Mia Zapata of The Gits' killer followed in 1995. Management changes with Warner Bros. delayed the highly anticipated follow-up to Pure And Simple tentatively titled Friend To Friend or Headlock. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts did release one other single through Warner Bros. called "Love Is All Around" (the theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show). It was released in 1996 to promote women's college basketball.
1997 brought the first USA greatest hits release through Mercury Records called Fit To Be Tied great hits by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Mercury Records also released the 1999 compilation album Fetish, a collection of sexual adventurous songs from the past, plus three unreleased songs "Baby Blue," "Fetish" and "Black Leather." Many of the songs delayed in the late 90's through the management shuffles at Warner Bros. were released in 2004 on the Japanese only album Naked. The title track "Naked" was co-written with Rudy Yuly, former lead singer of Tiny Hat Orchestra. In 2006 Joan Jett released her first album of new music in 12 years of new music called Sinner in the U.S. She and Laguna currently host a radio program on Sirius satellite radio.
Joan Jett's first appearance on film is in the 1981 live concert film Urgh!, subtitled A Music War, performing "Bad Reputation" with her band The Blackhearts at The Roxy in New York. Her first acting role came in 1987, co-starring with Gena Rowlands and Michael J. Fox in the Paul Schrader film Light of Day. She has also appeared in some independent films, including Du-beat-E-O which was originally entitled We're All Crazy Now and was to have been about The Runaways. Production difficulties necessitated changes and the film was rewritten to focus around Jett and released in 1984.
In 1997, Joan appeared in the independent film, Boogie Boy, directed by Craig Hamann and most recently has appeared in the Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Show in the role of "Columbia".
During the 1990s, she appeared on the Ellen show, performing the title song. She also appeared on the television show Highlander and covered the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show of the 1970s. Her song "Bad Reputation" was used as the theme song for the cult TV show Freaks and Geeks, and later for the Sirius radio show "Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer".
Joan Jett visits American troops at Fort BraggJoan returned to producing for the band Circus Lupus in 1992 and again, in 1994, for Bikini Kill. This recording was the New Radio EP for which Jett also played and sang back-up vocals. It was during the 1990s that the Riot Grrrl movement arose, of which Bikini Kill was a representative band, and many of these women credited Joan as a role model and inspiration. Another Riot Grrrl band, Bratmobile, covered the song "Cherry Bomb" as a tribute to her. At this time Joan co-wrote several songs with Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, foremost among them, "Activity Girl".
Near the end of the 1990s she worked with members of The Gits, whose lead singer and lyricist, Mia Zapata had been murdered. The results of their collaboration together was a live LP, Evil Stig, whose earnings were used in an effort to find Mia's murderer and bring him to justice. To this end, the band and Jett appeared on the television show America's Most Wanted, appealing to the public for information. The case was finally solved in 2004, when Zapata's murderer was finally brought to trial and convicted.
Most recently Joan performed "I Love Rock N Roll" with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 19, 2005.
Joan Jett's primary focus remains on recording and touring. Rumours of a Runaways reunion have sparked new interest in her old band, and the members are known to be friends. Joan has recently released material by Cherie Curie on her own label, Blackheart Records. She hosts Joan Jett's Radio Revolution on Sirius Satellite Radio's Underground Garage channel.
Joan recently toured with her protegės The Vacancies onstage, and is currently touring on the 2006 version of the popular Warped Tour.
Joan is a guest artist on The Ramones drummer Marky Ramone's solo album Start Of The Century on the track "Don't Blame Me."