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Joan Jett

Joan Jett is an American rock and roll guitarist, singer, and actress best known for her hit I Love Rock N' Roll, which was #1 on the Billboard charts from March 20th to May 8th, 1982.

Career and Biography

Joan Jett was born in Philadelphia. 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 Curie 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 very popular almost everywhere else, particularly in Japan. Subsequently, they have proved enormously influential for other women in bands and are regarded as pioneers.

After the Runaways disbanded in 1980, she 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, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

With the Blackhearts, she had several singles in the top ten, including the #1 I Love Rock N' Roll 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. Her cover of the song Little Drummer Boy appears on the soundtrack to the 1983 film Class.

Film and television appearances, personal life

Joan Jett's first appearance on film is in the 1981 live concert film Urgh!, subtitled A Music War, performing with her band The Blackhearts. Her first acting role came in 1987, co-starring with Gena Rowlands and Michael J. Fox in the Paul Schrader film Light Of Day, to great critical acclaim. 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 Picture Show in the role of Columba.

During the 1990s, Joan officially, though subtly, came out in The Advocate. At the same time, she appeared on the Ellen show, performing the title song. She also appeared on the television show The Highlander and covered the theme song to the cult tv show from the 1970s The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her song Bad Reputation was used as the theme song for the cult tv show Freaks and Geeks.

Later music career

Joan 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 Grrl 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 Hannah 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.

Current projects

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.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.

Joan Jett Facts

Birth NameJoan Jett Larkin
OccupationMusician
BirthdaySeptember 22, 1958 (59)
SignVirgo
BirthplacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Height5' 5½" (1m66)  How tall is Joan Jett compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts: Live!
Pride Divide
Surf Party
Real Wild Child: Joan Jett Video Anthology
The Runaways
Endless Bummer
TWO: The Story of Roman and Nyro
The Punk Singer
Mayor of the Sunset Strip
Multiple Sarcasms
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