Few women have been as influential as Joan Jett in rock and roll history. From co-founding The Runaways to being nicknamed the “Original Riot Grrrl,” Jett has left her mark in the music world.
Born Joan Marie Larkin on September 22, 1958, in Philadelphia, Jett would spend her formative years sneaking out at night to go to concerts with her friends. At the age of 15, after relocating to Los Angeles with her family, Jett formed the all-girl quintet The Runaways with drummer Sandy West. LA record producer Kim Fowley discovered the group at one of their gigs and signed the band to Mercury Records. Though the group never saw much commercial success in the US, they gained popularity abroad, particularly in Japan. However, in the spring of 1979, after recording five LPs, The Runaways disbanded.
But Jett had only just begun her music career.
In 1979, after producing punk group The Germs’ first (and only) album, Jett began pursuing a solo career in England. Though her self-titled solo debut was released in May 1980 in Europe, she and producer-partner Kenny Laguna struggled to get a US label to sign. Therefore, the duo form their own label, Blackheart Records, a name later used for Jett’s backing band. Joan Jett and The Blackhearts was eventually signed to Boardwalk Records, and the “Joan Jett” album was re-released as “Bad Reputation,” charting at #51. The next album “I Love Rock’n’Roll” went to #2 on US charts and the title track has been named one of the greatest songs of all time.
Jett has continued to release albums, including the 2010 “Greatest Hits” album, produce records, and collaborate with other artists. She has also received critical acclaim for performances in both film and stage.
Recently, Jett executive produced the 2010 biopic “The Runaways” and came out with a hardcover biography and picture book. Jett is also supporting Green Day on their European tour this summer.
"I’ve had a blessed career," she has said. "I consider myself so lucky to have been able to do things my own way."
• Received her first guitar at age 13 from her father for Christmas
• Suzi Quatro is one of her early influences
• Second American to perform behind the Iron Curtain
• Actively involved in women’s athletics. Her cover of “Love is All Around” has become a popular anthem.
• Is a vegan and environmentalist
• First musician to guest star in “Highlander: The Series”