Joan Jett

By: Lynn Peril
September 22, 2009

Joan Jett 1977
Joan Jett 1977

The time: 1977. The place: the hinterlands of Wisconsin. My friend Jacqué (pronounced “Jackie,” of course) and I are huddled together in her smoked-mirror-tiled bedroom listening to Queens of Noise, an album by all-girl band The Runaways. While I love their single, “Cherry Bomb,” I really wish we were listening to the Ramones’ newly released Rocket to Russia because even though I’m 16 and so are the Runaways, more or less, I can’t relate to either Cherie Currie’s sexy come-on tone or her lingerie get-up. But the following year, when I see pictures in Creem of guitarist/lyricist JOAN JETT (born 1958) bonding with Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys (on The Runaways’ first European tour), I am drawn to her. She is as clearly as interested in the burgeoning punk rock scene as I am; that year, she recorded with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of The Sex Pistols. Where Cherie Currie is blonde and girly, Joan is dark and tough — sexy, but without a shred of vulnerability. Later, her solo career would be a tribute to DIY independence — before her multi-platinum stardom, Jett and her manager sold her first LP out of the back of a car. Still touring today, Jett is a black-leather beacon in a world where lip-synching and product tie-ins all too often pass for real rock’n’roll.

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