Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

March 2010 News

Page updated on March 31, 2010
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The Rock icon talks music and movies

low resolution image Not Enlargeable I might be out of my element with JOAN JETT. I know movies and I know interviews, but JOAN JETT doesn't take any fluffy Hollywood sh*t. In a roundtable interview for The RUNAWAYS, the story of her first all girl band, Jett owned the room, making her in your face statements however she pleased.

Q: How surreal was it the first time you saw the movie and Kristen's performance?
It was pretty surreal, just the whole thing, but I've got to tell you I was on set, I did see her so it wasn't a shock. Having had a chance to see her do it on set, it wasn't a shock because I'd been seeing her like that. I'd been hanging out with her as me, so yeah. The surrealness is more seeing it as The RUNAWAYS I guess.

Q: How real is it from what you remember?
Well, it's a movie. It's a parallel storyline. It doesn't have every detail. There's a lot left out but there's a lot in there, meaning every day was so full there could have been 50 other incidents that could've been in there. But yeah, it definitely gives you a sense of what it was like to be in The RUNAWAYS. The essence is there for sure.

Q: Is Kim Fowley's in your face management style the way rock n' roll has to be done?
What, with an eccentric manager? Well, remember, it's a movie. I think that there was more humanity and warmth and camaraderie that existed during this time that I think maybe didn't come across. You have a lot of great experiences and it's a family. You follow any family around, you're going to see elation, you're going to see disharmony. That's just the way it is, but Kim, I don't know if that's how rock n' roll has to be done.

Q: Thinking about how you've succeeded with that band and with another, you've done it different ways, right?
Well, pretty much just doing the music thing. That was really the first and foremost in my mind. I've been lucky enough to have other successes. I've done some acting and a lot of different things, but mostly it's the music. My experience with Kim, look, the whole thing when it ended was very depressing. It was a struggle to get through that and just make it through that, of this thing that I loved so much and I really believed could change the world and really thought we were good and genuinely, naively believed this. To see the reaction be so harsh and so mean spirited because we're playing music? Playing f***ing rock n' roll? It just was weird and I didn't get it. It made me really angry and I had to figure out what it is that's so threatening with people, why people are so threatened for girls to play rock n' roll. I just don't get it. I still don't get it. Be told, "You can't play rock n' roll." What are you talking about? I'm sitting in school with girls playing cello and violin, playing Beethoven and Bach. What are you saying, you can't play rock n' roll, what does that mean? Can't master the instruments? Are you saying no, you can't do it socially because rock n' roll is Sticky Fingers' album cover. Rock n' roll is Robert Plant standing there with his shirt open like this. Go take a listen to "Whole Lotta Love" again and listen to how dirty that song is, how it drips, how sonically it's tactile. You can feel it. It's not overproduced and done in reverb. It's like you were in the room. When I listened to that, I wanted to make those sounds. Teenagers are sexual. Teenage girls are sexual. Sorry, it's the reality. To dismiss it like it should not have a voice is very insulting to teenagers. I see this now upon reflection but at the time I wasn't thinking of it like that, but that's definitely the fact. Kids are out there having these experiences so why are you making us the villain? If guys are doing it, it'd be like whoa, man, the guys, they know what they want.

Q: We loved when you stood up to the music teacher. I assume that really happened?
That was real life but I didn't have a fight with the guy. Really I went in, said I want to play rock n' roll and knowing that you have to learn the basics, now it makes sense to me that he would try to teach me something like that. At the time, I didn't want to hear it. He tried to teach me On Top of Old Smoky. I sit through the lesson, I leave and that's it. I never went back. I bought one of those Learn How to Play Guitar Chords By Yourself and it shows you the diagram where to put your hands and I took that in my room, sat with my singles and learned how to play guitar. But, I didn't fight with the guy.



low resolution image Not Enlargeable 'It's a shag, not a mullet.' JOAN JETT rasps at me with her smoke filled throat. 'Technically a mullet is short in front of the ears and longer behind.' It's good that she has clarified this, she does not seem the sort of woman that takes much shit and certainly I would not want the terminology of her 'do to be wrong. Having started way back when in 1975, with her band The RUNAWAYS, Joan was the original bad girl, all leather pants and back combing, 'two hours sometimes just with the hairspray,' she confirms. 'It wasn't initially leathers; it was glamÉBritish glitter rock, Bowie; that kind of thing. That was The RUNAWAYS origins.'

She started The RUNAWAYS as a mere kitten aged 15, (she was on rhythm guitar and sharing vocals), the band started to pick up a whole load of attention across the world; and for good reasons, six hot leather clad chicks rocking out, what's not to like? After five years, the band went their separate ways, and Joan was left to forge a career out of the rock n' rubble. So, being that shaggy haired multi-tasking alpha female sort, she did. When no record label would take her solo work, she started her own, BLACKHEART RECORDS. She found 'three good looking guys' to play instruments and she partied on as JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS, giving forth timeless classics such as 'I Love Rock And Roll,' (You might remember one Britney Spears grinding doe eyed and snake hipped to it, but Joan was on it first), as well as 'Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)', 'Bad Reputation' and 'You Don't Own Me'.

Back in the hazy days of '75, sartorial subcultures were a lot more D.I.Y, 'although there were a few shops we could get platform boots, but most of it was handmade.' The biker jacket n' ratty hair look might seem common place now, but Joan chartered new territory -- taking the middle finger of punk and the slinky glitter spray of glam and creating a whole new back combed beast. This 'you can fuck me but don't fuck me over' look was a whole new one; post flat shoe-d hippy dippy era, pre 80's power shoulder-pad -- opening new doors for girls to equal their brothers in the biker jacket stakes. 'I don't know how I feel about that way of dressing being so mainstream now,' she states. 'People ask me what it's like to be the template for a look and I feel funny about being part of that terminology. I wouldn't think of myself as an icon if people didn't tell me about it,' she mulls over what she's just said for a moment or two. 'Although I am very flattered by it, it's hard to put myself into that context. If people didn't tell me, it wouldn't be something I thought about myself.'

There's a saying that old punk rockers never die, they just wear more expensive clothes, and Joan's no exception to the rule. 'The leather pants are a base,' she explains matter of factly. 'Then I'll just have to find a belt or a jacket. I love Balenciaga, they make amazing black-and-white and leather stuff. I have bits of Dior, Dolce, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Burberry -- anyone really. There's always something I can find, it's all about the picking and choosing. I've always been very attracted to the British sense of style and music and the way the two combine in England. In America if you step outside the box of what you're supposed to be like you get slated for it. In Britain I get an impression it's more of an artistic expression, instead of judging everyone on a personal level.'

'I remember seeing The Clash at some venue in about '75 and I'd never seen a crowd of kids gathered like that with such a distinct and individual look. In the States nothing like that was going on. I remember going over for that first tour [with The RUNAWAYS}, all glammed out and seeing that Clash show and the kids were all pogoing. It was an amazing spectacle. I was hooked on the whole thing. It played into my own sense of alienation. It was a transformative trip.' This year there will be a film released on The RUNAWAYS, starring hot young thing Kristen Stewart as Joan. 'It's interesting because it's not really a biopic, it's not really a documentary about The RUNAWAYS forming, it's more a parallel storyline based on Cherie Curry's book Neon Angels. It will have it's own storyline, using a real band, but everything that will happen is not necessarily something that has happened to us.'


Rocket Queen: Heroes & Villains

The successful execution of a rock biopic is up there with producing a genuinely frightening horror film or shooting an erotically imaginative porn flick. It's just not easily done, and when it fails, it's particularly painful to watch.

The RUNAWAYS opened last weekend to generally favorable reviews, with respected critics like Roger Ebert praising the performances of scenery-chewing Michael Shannon (in a legitimately lurid portrayal of abusive band manager Kim Fowley), Dakota Fanning (as blonde, glam-rocking frontwoman Cherie Currie), and Kristen Stewart (as the band's most successful graduate, JOAN JETT). While it doesn't break the mold structurally (the familiar trajectoryÑnaive beginning, triumphant overnight success, and rapid declineÑis followed faithfully), the tone and energy of the film is undeniably entertaining, and in truth a fittingly cheap thrill that suits what the band really was: groundbreaking (and heartbreaking) in terms of sexual politics, but ultimately inconsequential artistically, save for a choice pop-punk nugget or two.

What is most important about the RUNAWAYS is that the band served as a harsh but ultimately empowering training ground for Jett, who at a tender age learned tough lessons about what she wouldn't tolerate in the music industry. Fowley may have exploited them sexually and fiscally, but that drove Jett to the DIY approach that she follows to this day, running her own label and maintaining ownership and close control over her public and private lives. Since self-releasing I Love Rock 'n' Roll nearly 30 years ago, Jett has owned and operated BLACKHEART RECORDS, recorded 14 more albums (including 1995's Evil Stig, a tribute to late Seattle musician Mia Zapata) and toured incessantly, including a stop Saturday in Shelton.


ELLE film critic Karen Durbin talks to JOAN JETT, Cherie Currie, and director Floria Sigismondi

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Karen Durbin: Why did you decide to executive-produce this film?
Initially I really wasn't into having the RUNAWAYS' story told, period. I don't know if it was out of protection, because the RUNAWAYS was, you know, my baby. I started the band with Sandy West. I felt that the only things that could happen with a movie would be bad. But the new movie got started off by my partner KENNY LAGUNA, who was trying to help Cherie Currie get her memoir [Neon Angel] published and he couldn't find a publisher. So we were banging around and eventually Kenny hired J.T. LeRoy to write a screenplay of it, and then when that whole situation turned out to be a fraud, somehow Kenny hooked up with [movie producers] Art and John Linson and River Road Entertainment. River Road did Brokeback Mountain and Art Linson has a long track record of successful movies, so I decided to take a leap of faith and hope the rock Ôn' roll god is looking out for me.

KD: What did you do on the movie?
Some of it involved making sure we had the proper history, the proper songs, to recreate the atmosphere of the time. I was also there as a resource for Kristen if she wanted me. I was willing to stay away as well, but she did want me around so I was ever-present: if she wanted me to do a line reading or ask me a question about the guitar, whatever it was--a mannerism or any little thing, I just wanted to make sure she had the total toolbox.

KD: Did you work with her on the music?
We were in the studio together, but I didn't have to tell her what to do; she'd already worked by herself on sounding like me. Early on, they sent me a test recording of a song called "I Love Playing With Fire" that I sang in the RUNAWAYS, and all I could hear was me on the track. And I'm like, You have to send me another one with Kristen's voice on it--I didn't hear her. So they send me another one and it sounds exactly the same, and I'm like, It's me again, I can't hear Kristen. And they're like, No, it is Kristen. She had mastered my inflections, how hard I would hit words, every aspect of how I'd sing the song.


Former Runaway and longtime Blackheart Discusses Her New Movie and the Guitar That Went All the Way

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Punk rock icon JOAN JETT has been very busy. In the past month alone, the guitarist/singer has released a Greatest Hits album as well as "JOAN JETT," a pictorial-based biography by designer Todd Oldham. Perhaps nothing is higher profile, though, than The RUNAWAYS, the new biopic about her life in the eponymous, groundbreaking all-girl group she co-founded in 1975. At 16, she was already redefining what being a girl meant, offering an entirely new picture to the public of what a woman can do with a guitar and a pair of leather pants.

Then, there is the JOAN JETT Blackheart model Gibson guitar, a variant on her much-loved Melody Maker. Her long-term relationship with Gibson started with her first Les Paul guitar, which she nearly equates to a lover -- smart, attractive and something you'll want to hang around with in the morning. At 51, she hasn't lost any of her snarling edge and, frankly, if you don't like it, then she probably wouldn't want you around anyway.

What made you first pick up a guitar?
I asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas when I was 13. I wanted to make the noises I was hearing on the radio from songs like "Bang a Gong" by T-Rex or "All Right Now" by Free, so I had to get a guitar.

What drew you to Melody Makers?
Actually, after the Sears Silvertone my parents got for me, my first real guitar was a Gibson Les Paul. Once I was in The RUNAWAYS, I saved up some money and I got this beautiful blond Les Paul Deluxe and its pickups were reversed; the treble pickup was the bottom one which made the toggle switch in the right place for my hand. It's a heavy guitar, the Les Paul, and so I was actually looking for a lighter guitar as a number two. One of my roadies, at the time, had worked with Eric Carmen from The Raspberries and knew Carmen had a guitar he wanted to sell. It was a Gibson Melody Maker double-cutaway, California-style, and so I bought this guitar second hand. It turns out it was the guitar that played on "Go All The Way," The Raspberries hit; that's my white guitar.

It had lots of coats of white paint and, as I would take it to the clubs, the paint would crack. So my guitar has the most incredible cracked finish. It's all discolored from the smoke in the clubs, so it's like a yellowed white and it's got cracks in the shellacÉand it's just beautiful. And now, it's off the road and it's in a cedar closet being kept safe.


JOAN JETT: Kristen Stewart Did "Amazing Job" Portraying Me in The RUNAWAYS

low resolution image Not Enlargeable I'm as excited about The RUNAWAYS as the rest of America seems to be -- the biopic about JOAN JETT and Cherie Currie's legendary band earned $800,000 at the box office this weekend and I have been playing JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS non-stop in my office. Fortunately, we were able to catch up with the 51-year-old rock legend (responsible for such classic gems as "I Love Rock And Roll" and "Cherry Bomb") at the film's premiere on March 17 to get her take on its runaway success. Here's what she had to say: How was it seeing yourself portrayed on screen? Is it thrilling? Or weird?
I think Kristen -- well both of them, really -- did an amazing job.

Us: I heard you met with Kristen and Dakota [Fanning, who plays Cherie] to try to help them understand what it was like and how to capture your characters.
Yeah, but they really didn't need much help!

Us: Do you see yourself in Kristen at that age?
Absolutely. I really do.

Us: What kind of advice did you give her about playing you?
She didn't really ask anything too specific. She was more or less into small details -- "How would you say this?" "How would you do this?" "How would you start this chord?" Most of the other stuff I just dumped on her right away. When we first met, I talked and talked and talked at her for hours. About The RUNAWAYS and told her stories I'd never told anyone else. I thought it was important. I gave her tape of me talking at age 14 so she could hear the way I was... I wanted her to know Joan and not JOAN JETT. You get so used to the hair and the makeup and the leather jacket as opposed to the person behind that and I wanted her to know the person. I think we really did get down to that.


JOAN JETT Hates Being Told That Girls Can't Rock

low resolution image Not Enlargeable While the new film, 'The RUNAWAYS,' touches on trials and tribulations that even today's teens experience, one thing that'll set it apart is the fact the '70s all-girl band was constantly told that they just couldn't play as well as the boys could.

"I didn't like being told that girls couldn't play rock 'n' roll," guitarist and ex-Runaway JOAN JETT told Spinner at press event. "I'm sitting in school with girls playing cello and violin, playing Beethoven and Bach. 'What do you mean girls can't play? Do you mean they can't master the instrument?' No, you don't mean that. What you mean is socially they're not allowed to because rock 'n' roll implies sex."

Despite the backlash at that time, Jett didn't let it faze her and looked to the big stars at the time like the Rolling Stones in order to learn how performing was done. "Being told you can't do it because you're a girl just didn't' wash," Jett said. "My parents always told me I could do anything I wanted, and I believed them. So I think it's important that you're able to own it. And women owning their sexuality is threatening."

After the RUNAWAYS made their mark, Jett has seen the tradition continue with many female musicians following suit but admits that the experiences were very different. "I don't think you can really make comparisons," Jett said. "Certainly people have drawn parallels to the Riot Grrrl movement in the mid-90s with Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland, L7, a lot of bands like that had success, the Breeders, Sleater-Kinney. But beyond girls playing instruments, I don't know that you can say it's the exact same experience really. I think we were doing something a little bit different."


Interview: JOAN JETT on 'The RUNAWAYS'

low resolution image Not Enlargeable JOAN JETT may sing "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," but the real message of her life story is that she lived rock and roll, and still does every day. She has a brand new Greatest Hits album available through her BLACKHEART RECORDS, she's constantly touring with the BLACKHEARTS, and she even has her own iPhone app. But you're seeing her on this side of success. The RUNAWAYS is a movie about Jett before she became famous, how she had to fight to make her own opportunities, and how she was told that girls shouldn't play electric guitar.

Although Kristen Stewart portrays JOAN JETT in the film, Jett was frequently on set giving her directions. She's very happy with the end result of both Stewart's performance and the story the film tells. We spoke to Jett at Sundance this year, where she managed to exude enthusiasm for the film, while also quietly being one of the coolest people in town. Seriously, rock and roll seeps out of her pores. Read on through for the full interview.

How did this project start with you and how odd was it, or cool was it seeing Kristen Stewart playing you on screen?
How'd the project start? Well, it was actually a long process. It started with Cherie Currie's book. She had written a book about her life in The RUNAWAYS and then some things that occurred to her afterwards. KENNY LAGUNA, my partner, my songwriting partner and producer was trying to help her get it published. So, he'd gone around to different publishers and they had trouble, you know, getting it published or getting any sort of response. So then Kenny thought ... I think this was his idea of getting The RUNAWAYS into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or something. And then he thought, like, "What about a TV movie?" Lifetime, or something like that, and then went to MTV, thinking maybe they'll do it. They weren't really interested.

It came around and somehow we got hooked up with J.T. Leroy. Does anybody know that story? J.T. Leroy, the author who had a couple of best selling books on the New York Times best seller list and he was supposed to be a 16 year old prostitute who's mother was a junkie and whored him out or something and it turned out to be two 50 year old women. So once that all happened, then obviously Leroy wasn't the one that was going to write the screenplay. I'm not sure of the exact details, but it came around to the Linson's attention and they were interested in pursuing it and they brought Floria Sigismondi on board to write the screenplay.

At that point, I guess I started to take it seriously and to really think about, "Was I into it?" Once I decided yes, I was into it. I felt like there's great people behind it. They've got quite a track record and I would like to see The RUNAWAYS done justice because it's something that means so much to me. So, yeah, to get to your question about Kristen, I think she's a really real person. She's authentic. She cared about it. It wasn't just a gig. It wasn't like, "Okay, I'm gonna do this role blah, blah, blah and in a few months then go do something else." I mean, she cut off her hair. She really immersed herself in it. I don't mean to put words in her mouth, but what I get is that she feels she has to do it justice, whatever that means. She knows The RUNAWAYS have fans. She knows I have fans and she was concerned about being authentic. And I found her to be wonderful to be around. We got along great. It was really scary when you see us together, physically. The energy is so similar, the way we move, the way our hands move, our hair, the way that we talk, the way we start and don't finish sentences. I mean it's really bizarre, you know, but in a great way. Yes saw the movie, right?


JOAN JETT Q&A: What she thinks of 'The RUNAWAYS' and Kristen Stewart

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They were universally mocked no matter how hard they rocked.

The RUNAWAYS, the world's first all-girl teenage rock band - who stormed out from L.A. in the mid-'70s - endured scathing reviews, scornful audiences and a manager who often undermined their best efforts.

Now there's a movie capturing their wild, painful and ecstatic ride. "The RUNAWAYS," now in theaters, stars "Twilight's" Kristen Stewart as JOAN JETT, the band's creative heart, and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, its spitfire singer.

Jett went on to become the most successful Runaway, scoring No. 1 hits and sustaining an esteemed career more than three decades after the group of jail-bait rockers ran out of steam. (Her double CD "Greatest Hits" comes out this week.)

Jett also serves as executive producer of the movie. But did that help the flick get the story right?

You're the ultimate witness on the RUNAWAYS. How much of the film is accurate, and how much of it uses "poetic license"?
Well, it's a movie, so it's never exactly right. They have to set up a bad guy and a good guy, a winner and loser.


Exclusive Sneak Preview: Upcoming bio book will offer a close-up look at rocker JOAN JETT

low resolution image Not Enlargeable "Now, even to this day all these years later a girl with a guitar, a girl owning it, is very threatening. They always want you to tone it down." ---JOAN JETT

JOAN JETT (nee Joan Marie Larkin), rhythm guitarist of the mid to late Seventies all teenage girl rock band, The RUNAWAYS, evolved into becoming the first woman to start her own independent rock record label, BLACKHEART RECORDS. Named for her band JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS, she has also recently had her first signature guitar issued, the Gibson JOAN JETT Blackheart Melody Maker. In tribute to the iconic multi-million record selling recording artist, designer Todd Oldham has conceived and authored the book that serves as a portrait of Jett's life as a public persona and a rock and roll performer. Titled JOAN JETT, the book will be published by AMMO Books, LLC, and will be released in April 2010.

In addition to JOAN JETT, AMMO Books released the award-winning Gonzo by Hunter S. Thompson and Johnny Depp.


Secrets of "The RUNAWAYS": JOAN JETT, Kristen Stewart and Co. on the Wild New Biopic

low resolution image Not Enlargeable What's the only thing better than becoming the first acclaimed all-female rock band? Becoming the first all-female rock band to get your own biopic. At least that was the feeling during Wednesday night's premiere of The RUNAWAYS, the true story of the five teenage girls who spent the Seventies kicking their way down the Sunset Strip and into the boys' club. On the red carpet at New York's Landmark Sunshine theater, the E Street Band's Steven Van Zandt called the RUNAWAYS "my heroes." Debbie Harry embraced RUNAWAYS rhythm guitarist JOAN JETT. Chloe Sevigny showed up in black leather, perhaps as a tribute to Jett's favorite kind of pants. Outside, teenage girls lined up for autographs -- one was even clutching what looked like a brand-new guitar.

Asked about the young rockers amassed behind the velvet ropes, RUNAWAYS star Kristen Stewart, who plays Jett in the film, was thrilled. "If I go out there and everyone's wearing shag haircuts like Joan," she said, "I'll know we did something right." Sure enough, if Stewart earned one rhinestone for every shag haircut outside, every inch of the metallic strapless dress she wore that night would be bedazzled by now.

For the second time in the past 30 years, the RUNAWAYS are becoming icons, and the film makes it easy to understand why. Director Floria Sigismondi, who's made music videos for the White Stripes and Marilyn Manson, offers a fresh, unapologetically girlie twist on hoary old rock biopic clichŽs. So instead of groupie orgies, there's a very sweet love scene between Jett and singer Cherie Currie, who never takes off her roller skates. And instead of fights over record contracts, there's heated debates about the fashion-forwardness of pink corsets.

But there's never any doubt that these feathered-haired vamps aren't just as serious about playing music as corseted beauties like, say, David Bowie. It's just that this is a coming-of-age story, not only for the teenage girls in the band, but for rock & roll itself, which was changing right along with them. "The Seventies was a perfect time to be a teenager, because it was such an era of experimentation with sex and drugs and rock music," says Sigismondi. "And the RUNAWAYS were a truly experimental band: they did all the things young girls weren't supposed to do." That includes getting high in airplane bathrooms and urinating on some rude rocker dude's guitar (as Jett does in one scene).

True to that spirit, Sigismondi is also doing a few things she's not supposed to do, like casting two former child stars -- Stewart and Dakota Fanning, both flown in from a little vampire movie franchise you might have heard of -- in a feature that deals frankly with subjects like pill-popping and softcore porn and masturbation. As one blog recently joked, it's Twilight Girls Gone Wild.

At first, Fanning was anxious about playing Cherie Currie, especially since she knew her real singing voice would be used in the film. "Even the thought of singing karaoke has always terrified me,"admits the 16-year-old actress. "And I had never felt the power of a band behind me." So Sigismondi arranged for Fanning to practice with the Living Things, an L.A. rock band that features the director's husband, Lillian Berlin. Currie also taught Fanning her favorite trick: wrapping the microphone chord around her leg, and then unspooling it until it flies into the air for her to catch. Soon, Fanning was so comfortable onstage that she invited her own mother to watch her writhing around to the jailbait anthem "Cherry Bomb," which includes heavy-breather lyrics like, "I'll give you something to live for / Have you, grab you 'til you're sore!"


Interview: Floria Sigismondi
Art star Floria Sigismondi takes on icon JOAN JETT's story


low resolution image Not Enlargeable When I ask Floria Sigismondi to show me the T-shirt she's hiding under the jacket of her relatively straight-arrow black pantsuit, she reveals a vintage Iggy Pop T from his 1977 tour.

"Did you rip it yourself?" I ask, referring to the gaping hole at the top.

"This is real wear and tear," she says proudly. "I have three T-shirts like this that I have to handle with complete care."

It's an outfit that perfectly suits Sigismondi's moment. The shirt represents the OCA (now OCAD) grad's arty pedigree and huge cred as director of music videos for everyone from David Bowie to Christina Aguilera, some of them pretty disturbing. The pantsuit fits the image of serious director of first feature The RUNAWAYS, starring box office gold Kristen Stewart as iconic rocker JOAN JETT and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, the lead singer in Jett's first band.

Sigismondi sees the film as a coming-of-age story as much as a story of girls gone bad in rock and roll.

"They grow into this rock world where they get in over their heads," she says in a Park Hyatt hotel room. "I just love the fact that they were so young, doing things that girls weren't supposed to do, and the energy of what it's like to be without parental...anything."


A Minute With: JOAN JETT on Life as a "Runaway"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - She has been among the First Ladies of rock music since there were ladies playing hard rock, and now JOAN JETT is seeing her pioneering days with all-girl band The RUNAWAYS playing out on movie screens.

"The RUNAWAYS," which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and opens in theaters on Friday, sees Kristen Stewart playing guitarist Jett and Dakota Fanning as singer Cherie Currie.

Currie, Jett and three others were part of the 1970s band that scored a hit with "Cherry Bomb," but soon broke up when drug abuse and outsized egos overtook the music.


Jett: 'I'll Never Retire'

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Iconic 1970s rocker JOAN JETT has vowed never to retire because she'd be too "bored" living her life away from the limelight.

Jett's teenage rock band The RUNAWAYS broke up in 1979, and she went on to launch a successful solo career and enjoy a string of acting roles.

The singer is still touring at the age of 51 - and insists she'll still be rocking well into old age.

She tells People magazine, "I'd get bored after a few weeks. I'll be working until I die."

Jett: 'The RUNAWAYS' not a biopic

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Don't mistake the "The RUNAWAYS" for a biopic, warns raspy-voiced legend JOAN JETT, who says the tale of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll is more about the essence of those heady days in the late '70s, when she and sex-kitten lead singer Cherie Currie carved a path for female rockers.

Jett says the film's Canadian director, music video visionary Floria Sigismondi, added just the right dream-like touches to turn their explosive relationship with each other and the stage into a coming-of-age tale that doesn't hold back.

"Initially, it was misrepresented as a biopic, which to me, sounds like something that focuses mostly on the band workings and would delve more into all the girls' stories and stuff," Jett said in a recent interview from New York.


The rock legend opens up about The RUNAWAYS.

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Few rockers--male or female--are quite as badass as JOAN JETT. During her more than 30 years in the music business, she's cofounded her own record label, BLACKHEART RECORDS; produced songs for bands like the Germs and Bikini Kill; appeared in a few movies (and on Broadway); and, oh yeah, started the all-girl hard-rock band the RUNAWAYS. It's the latter that's getting the most attention right now: A biopic about the band's short-lived career--they released five albums in four years--is out this week. Twilight star Kristen Stewart plays Jett (also the film's executive producer), who called us from an airport to chat about fashion, baseball and being portrayed onscreen.

This interview will appear in our Spring Fashion issue--and you're considered a fashion icon.
It's very humbling to think that people use you as a sort of idea to achieve a look. But sometimes when I look back on some of the stuff I wore, I'm thinking, [Laughs] I hope they're not talking about these clothes.

Well, you took risks. It's the whole crazy, rock & roll, glam look.
Yeah, I'm just not good in bright colors. I know that now.

The RUNAWAYS is out this week, and your greatest-hits album came out a few weeks ago. Was all this JOAN JETT synergy planned?
Certainly when people are focusing on the movie, it's good to give them some other things, too. But it wasn't, you know, a grand plan to have everything come out at once.

How did you originally get involved with the film?
I really didn't want any of it to happen, to tell you the truth. I was not really keen on a RUNAWAYS movie. The RUNAWAYS is really important to me, and I was afraid that all they could do is screw it up. I was happy with the fans that knew who we were, to just keep it like that.


Rock never forgets, but it can forgive
Star buried hatchet with ex-bandmate for movie The RUNAWAYS


low resolution image Not Enlargeable Rock 'n' roll may never die, but it sure can hold grudges.

It felt that way sometimes for rocker JOAN JETT over the past 31 years, as she struggled to come to grips with the legacy of the RUNAWAYS, the all-girl Los Angeles rock band she helped create in 1975. The teen group lasted just four years, long enough for a legacy that has influenced everyone from the Bangles to Bikini Kill. But the hard feelings over its explosive and untimely demise took decades to soften.

"The RUNAWAYS meant a lot to me and (the break-up) was devastating," says raven-haired Jett, 51, her smoky voice on the line from New York sounding tinged with regret.

"Cherie and I didn't really talk for years. It was really about not knowing how to connect and I was probably still hurt and upset. But really, when I think back on it, the universe takes care of you. It ends the way it should. We couldn't all be 20 years old and be RUNAWAYS. The universe just took care of it."

A big reason for Jett's mellower attitude is The RUNAWAYS, a film opening Friday. It tells the story of the band's creation and the circumstances behind lead singer Cherie Currie's tumultous 1977 departure, some 18 months before guitarist Jett and drummer Sandy West, the other co-founder, reluctantly drove a stake through the group's heart.

Jett went on to much greater acclaim with her new band, JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS, which is still very much a going concern.


Gibson USA introduces JOAN JETT 'Blackheart' Melody Maker Signature Guitar

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Gibson Guitar, the world's premier musical instrument manufacturer and leader in music technology, has announced the launch of the JOAN JETT "Blackheart" signature Melody Maker. In anticipation of the forthcoming film release The RUNAWAYS and the recent release of the JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS Greatest Hits package, the "Blackheart" Melody Maker will be available at select retailers beginning March 19th, 2010. Her BLACKHEARTS label was formed three decades ago, in 1980, after being turned down by 23 record labels. She would go onto sell six million albums, and rack up 9 Billboard Top 40 Hits. Says Joan, "I needed a black guitar. This guitar has the same body and the neck runs smooth as silk." I wanted some flash of color, so the fret inlays are bright red, and the 12th fret is marked by mother of pearl inlay hearts lying end to end. I am using it onstage now, and it sounds ferocious. But of course, she can play gentle as well. Just like the earlier white JOAN JETT Gibson model, it is a great guitar for anybody." Jett got her own original Melody Maker back in 1977, which she has played it ever since. It's the same guitar she used when she was in the The RUNAWAYS from 1975 to 1979, and then the multi-platinum Jett played it on all of her hits including "I Love Rock n' Roll," "Bad Reputation" and "Do You Wanna Touch Me." The Double Cutaway Melody Maker in black features the Mini Grover LP style with a buffed neck for a smooth feel while playing certain licks. Gibson USA adds to the look of the guitar by adding features that exude Jett's personality. The neck is adorned with black heart, to represent her band the BLACKHEARTS. There are also red dot inlays, and Jett's own signature on the truss rod cover. A Zebra Coil BurstBucker 3 adds to the versatility of the guitar's sound. Each comes in a JOAN JETT hard shell case. Next up for the rock icon is a photo book of Joan's life by Todd Oldham, which is being released by AMMO Books this spring.

10 RockinÕ Chapters From JOAN JETT's Melody Maker Rhythm Guitar Bible

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Lead six-stringers usually get all the love in rock guitar land, but the truth of the matter is that when it comes to the guts of the music, it's really all about rhythm playing.

That's also a good description of JOAN JETT's musical approach: all about rhythm. When Jett arrived at the crossroads of punk and pop in the late 1970s and early '80s, she almost single-handedly restored the core values of big, chunky, riff-blasting rhythm guitar to the musical mainstream.

Her rhythm sound -- nasty and snarling on mega-hits like "Bad Reputation," "I Love Rock Ôn' Roll," and "Do You Wanna Touch," all blasted out via her heavy down-stroke-based strumming style on the white single-humbucker Gibson Melody Maker that's been her sidekick since she bought it in 1977 -- could easily be used as an audio textbook definition of "rock."

Jett's played other Melody Makers during the course of her career, slamming chords on Gibson double-Ms with two pickups and other mods, but her go-to axe has remained her first -- the guitar that Gibson has now immortalized by issuing the JOAN JETT Blackheart deluxe artist's model. has already explained how to conjure up Jett's wicked tone on your own, but to really get an earful of her rumbling technique you've got to go straight to the source. So here's a rundown of Jett's 10 most rockin' albums, all driven by her signature Melody Maker sound:

The RUNAWAYS (1976): Expect a resurgence of interest in Jett's first band, the teenaged all-girl outfit the RUNAWAYS this year after the group's bio-pic is released. Meanwhile, get an earful of Jett playing the first classic she wrote "Cherry Bomb," with the band. Jett later rerecorded the song for 1984's excellent Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth.



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JOAN JETT was the dark rock 'n' roll heart of The RUNAWAYS, the band she formed with the help of svengali Kim Fowley when she was 16. Now 52, she's the patron saint of riot grrrls everywhere, having kick-started a women-in-rock revolution with a single power chord. EYE WEEKLY spoke to the icon about Floria Sigismondi's new RUNAWAYS biopic, her relationship with her bandmates and teaching star Kristen Stewart how to "fuck her guitar."

Has it been an emotional experience watching your story unfold onscreen with a bunch of people who are seeing this very dramatized version of your own life?
It's been really surreal, in a pleasant way, you know? There were a couple of moments that I got emotional -- not during the movie, but talking to people afterwards, to people who saw it that knew me then. It's most interesting to speak to people who really knew me well and hear what they thought. And they really believed Kristen [Stewart] as me, so that's impressive when it's coming from Pat Smear of The Germs, who was a friend of mine -- I produced their record for them, many years ago.

Have other members of The RUNAWAYS come to the premieres as well?
Well, Cherie [Currie, whose autobiography the film is based on] was obviously there. Sandy West has passed away. But you know, [Sandy's] family came, some of her sisters, so they felt Sandy would've been really happy and that she was there in spirit. You know that's really kind of bittersweet for me because Sandy would've really wanted this to happen, and I really wish she was here to see it. She's the one I started this whole thing with, and she would be so excited to see our music out there again. And just... [continue] the mission to to let girls know that it was OK to try different things. And not just music, any walk of life -- try not to be afraid. Or even if you're afraid to just jump into it.

Absolutely. That was one of the most striking things for me when I saw the film, I loved it and it made me instantly want to start a band.
[Laughs] Well, that's great! That's amazing! I think it's inspiring, you know. it's something you can do with your hands and it's fun. And you can make some noise and you can get your feelings out and it's social, because you're with other people. To me, one of the best things is playing live. There's nothing better. I like to play in big places -- it's been cool to see all those people out there -- but really, if I had my choice, I'd much rather play a small club. You know, where people are right up against the stage, and the stage is tiny and everyone is smushed together. I like that. Maybe it's because I'm used to it. It's where I'm comfortable and I like to sweat. So anyway... go form a band! You should do it, too!

You've been quoted as saying that in rock n' roll you own your own sexuality. Like, pop music is about "you can do what you want to me," but rock music is all about "I'm going to do what I want to you." How do you think that relates to Kristen's depiction of you? It's a very sexualized performance.
You think?


Kristen Stewart lets her hair down as JOAN JETT

low resolution image Not Enlargeable The first time she met JOAN JETT about portraying her in The RUNAWAYS, Kristen Stewart was petrified that the rock legend wouldn't take her seriously because she still looked like Bella Swan.

"It was so scary because it felt like this is the meeting that either fires me or keeps me on," Stewart remembers. "My hair was still long, I was about to do New Moon. I felt like she was going to look at me and go, ÔWhat makes you think you could play me?'"

It turns out the hair was a factor, but one that worked to Stewart's favour, according to Jett: "I asked her, ÔAre you going to cut your hair?' And when she said yes, it really gave me a sense of comfort, that she was very committed to becoming me," Jett says.

But hairstyles aside, Jett immediately took to her younger doppelganger. "I liked her right away," she says of their first meeting -- at a Denny's in the San Fernando Valley. "I thought she was really great. Probably took a minute for us to get comfortable."

For Jett, the creative force behind 1970s all-girl punk band the RUNAWAYS and hits like I Love Rock and Roll and their legendary cover of Crimson and Clover, watching her youth come alive on screen was more than a little surreal, especially since the film chronicles such an important part of her life -- filled with some painful memories.


Real Runaway JOAN JETT is still rockin' like it's 1975

low resolution image Not Enlargeable At an impressionable 18 (inset at LA's Starwood Club in 1976), Jett couldn't have possibly predicted the staying power she'd have more than 30 years later. "I've been lucky that people still want to come to our shows," she says.

Given the fact that she's one of mainstream music's most infamous bad girls, veteran rocker JOAN JETT is surprisingly, well, sweet. When asked about the quiet life she splits between the West Village and a waterfront home in Long Beach, Long Island, she pauses for a moment before responding: "I don't know if I get recognized necessarily, though I do get looked at a lot -- but I don't know if it's because of who I am, or if people just think I look weird."

Recent weeks have found her coming to the defense of tween phenom Kristen Stewart (who plays and covers songs by Jett in the new musical biopic "The RUNAWAYS") and washing dogs for charity. She ends conversations with a gruff, but gentle, "Have a nice day, man."

The movie's producers must be relieved -- the spiky-haired, tat-sporting singer isn't the kind of person you'd want to cross when making a movie based on her life story: Jett's career, and almost eerily unchanging persona, could well be a model for what's known in the popular vernacular as sticking to one's guns. There's the perennially slick bad-girl style (think Betty Rubble by way of David Bowie); the unwaveringly outspoken feminist views and, most importantly, a three-decades-strong fixation on rock 'n' roll despite the financial drubbing the genre's suffered at the hands of mainstream pop.

Still, while you can probably recite most of the lyrics to Jett's biggest songs by heart -- her cover of the Arrows' "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and her own "Bad Reputation," for starters -- that may well be where your knowledge of the performer begins and ends. So where does that leave Jett? Well, somewhere on the fringes of the classic-rock mainstream, and it turns out that suits her just fine.

"I'm not looking for a huge profit; that's not the motive," explains the longtime New Yorker, who sounds as if she's just made her way through a carton of menthols when she calls from a hotel room in Los Angeles, where she's preparing for the movie's big premiere. "The profit is when kids come up to me and say, ÔYou inspired me to pick up a guitar.' Or ÔI was having a really tough time and your music helped me through it'...That's currency to me. Obviously you can't pay your rent with it, but that's why I'm always out on the road . . . I've toured every year since 1975, and I've been lucky enough that people still want to come to our shows."


Kristen Stewart Behind the Scenes of The RUNAWAYS

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Here's a few new behind the scenes photos of Kristen Stewart and JOAN JETT from the set of ÒThe RUNAWAYSÓ starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Both Kristen and Dakota also star in The Twilight Saga co-starring Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.

Synopsis: The RUNAWAYS (Neon Angels) is based on lead-singer Cherie Currie's book 'Neon Angel' - a reflection of her experiences as a rock star, but also delivering a strong anti-drug warning to teens and others. David Bowie's ÒSpace OddityÓ serves as a metaphor for the narrative- a slow countdown, a surreal but spectacular rise to fame, then alienation and burnout - a long long way from home.

The movie chronicles THE RUNAWAYS from 1975 - 1977; formed by teenage girls living near Hollywood, CA., and heavily manipulated by their manager Kim Fowley as 'jailbait rock' (all the girls were 16 or younger when the band recorded their first album). The band ultimately succeeds on their own merits as musicians, becoming the first all-girl rock-band to ever break into the world of arena-filling hard rock acts.

Stay tuned to for the latest from ÒThe RUNAWAYSÓ.


low resolution image Not Enlargeable When songwriter and musician JOAN JETT co-founded The RUNAWAYS with drummer Sandy West, she made history and paved the way for all the women who came after her by pioneering a seminal all girl rock and roll band and inspiring female musicians to pick up a guitar in the formerly male dominated landscape. Her influence continues to be felt today not only in the music world, but also in the fabric of society, penetrating pop culture with her music, her signature style, and her social activism.

In keeping with her pioneering spirit, Joan became the first woman to start her own independent record company, BLACKHEART RECORDS. The label continues to grow, giving emerging artists a chance to succeed. Joan also recently designed with Gibson her signature JOAN JETT Gibson Melody Maker. This is the first signature electric guitar created by a woman, and the JOAN JETT Melody Maker is one of the hottest guitars on the market.

MoviesOnline sat down recently with Joan to discuss her new movie "The RUNAWAYS." The film tells the story of the band's meteoric rise, their wild life on the road fueled by sex, drugs and booze, and the eventual dissolution of The RUNAWAYS just three years and five albums later. JOAN JETT talked to us about her role as executive producer, how she and Cherie Currie worked closely with actresses Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning who portrayed them, and what she felt was the band's legacy.

Q: There were a lot of photos during the production where you were on set. You were standing right behind the camera as they were shooting scenes. You were incredibly hands on.
JJ: I wasn't really behind the camera.

Q: You were on set.
JJ: I was on set.


JOAN JETT Goes Gree"n With 'Greatest Hits'

low resolution image Not Enlargeable The rockstar is back on the scene with a movie, two album releases, a book and a passion for being eco-friendly.

Strategically timed with the upcoming movie about her early career The RUNAWAYS, JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS released a two-disc "Greatest Hits" collection on Tuesday. Also, Tuesday March 16 will be the release of The RUNAWAYS soundtrack, complete with original songs, as well as versions from the movie, in which Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning are cast as the RUNAWAYS. But it doesn't end there! In addition to a feature film and two album releases, a book of pictures and interviews compiled with designer Todd Oldham, will hit shelves next month. that's a busy woman! Jett, however, is no stranger to hard work. She has not only succeeded in the music business, but she smashed the gender barriers that held back her female contemporaries. The RUNAWAYS were an all-female band at a time when it was extremely hard to find a woman rocking out without men in the band. Co-founded by Jett at age 15, the group disbanded after a few years. Jett, then moved on to headline her new band JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS, whose songs climbed the charts for decades. She then became the first female artist turned record producer when she founded BLACKHEART RECORDS.

Aside from paving the way for women, the rockstar also likes to pave paths in social movements. She is a staunch advocate of vegetarianism and green practices. The packaging from her "Greatest Hits" release will be eco-friendly (made from 100 percent recycled paper and biodegradable trays). "I've always appreciated nature," she says in her website biography, "trees, grass, birds, sun, and even insects. I obsessively recycle. I almost never turn on lights; I pretty much live in the dark. I don't use a lot of water. I am a vegetarian, so I avoid contributing to the major environmental damage that the meat industry creates. I hope that soon we can make sure that everything we do is earth-friendly."

JOAN JETT takes off again with greatest hits

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Get ready for the JOAN JETT renaissance.

While everyone is gearing up for "The RUNAWAYS" -- the new film about her early days with the groundbreaking band where she's played by Kristen Stewart -- there is much more planned. It started with her two-CD "Greatest Hits," which came out Tuesday, and the movie soundtrack, due out next Tuesday, which includes songs from The RUNAWAYS and Jett, as well as Stewart and Dakota Fanning as The RUNAWAYS.

"Fans have been asking me for years and years for a new greatest hits album -- there has always been interest," Jett said in a statement, adding that executive-producing the film led her to really spend some time with her music. "It made me realize that it would be great to get it back out into the marketplace for the fans and for a new audience."

That she has control over putting out her own material -- and has for three decades on her own BLACKHEART RECORDS -- simply underscores the impact she has had on the industry. (Isn't it about time someone mounts a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame campaign for her induction?) Not only did she and The RUNAWAYS break down gender barriers, back when it was rare to see women rock on their own, but Jett also broke down gender roles in becoming the first female artist to run her own record company.

The rebellion that she wrote about in "Bad Reputation" and "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" extended to the way she handled herself in business, as well. It's a story that will hopefully be told in the pictures and interview excerpts she pulled together with Todd Oldham for a new book, "JOAN JETT," set to be released next month.

The book could be summed up in one of Jett's quotes: "Being onstage is everything that's good about life."

RUNAWAYS Movie Brings Cherie Currie Back To Music

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The impending release of "The RUNAWAYS" film is bringing singer Cherie Currie back to music, as well as book stores.

Currie -- whose autobiography, "Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway" (It Books, March 16) is the basis for the movie -- tells that working with actress Dakota Fanning, who depicts her, and getting back into the studio with JOAN JETT to work on the soundtrack has rekindled her appetite to be a queen of noise once more.

"Oh, absolutely, yeah," says Currie, who went on to acting, drug counseling and personal training, while in recent years has become an accomplished chainsaw sculptor. "I know I'm going to be doing shows over the summer. I've written a few songs. We'll see what happens. Am I banking on it? No. I've got my chainsaw and my wood and I'm very happy. But I know I'm going to be doing some (musical) things here and there, and we'll see what comes of it."

Currie says seeing the RUNAWAYS' story turned into a movie -- which opens March 19 and also stars Kristen Stewart as Jett and Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon as band svengali Kim Fowley -- is "just unreal. I still have to pinch myself. This is something I did for a little over two years, and it was a big deal at the time but now it seems to have taken on a whole other life of its own."

Currie and Jett, who was a co-producer on the film, both spent considerable time on the set working with their counterparts. But Currie says the soundtrack sessions, marking the first time since 1977 that she and Jett were in a studio together, were particularly special. "It was as if time had stood still, as if these last 35 years never happened," she recalls. "We were on the mark. It was incredible. We had a fantastic time." The two RUNAWAYS coached Fanning and Stewart through new recordings of "Cherry Bomb," "California Paradise," "Queens of Noise" and "Dead End Justice." "I sat in the vocal booth with (Fanning)," Currie says, "and Joan sat with Kristen. They did a great job. Dakota is quite a singer, and so is Kristen. It was just a blast."


UO Interviews JOAN JETT

low resolution image Not Enlargeable On March 19th, The RUNAWAYS - a biopic about JOAN JETT's seminal all-girl band - arrives in theatres. As an executive producer, Jett has been heavily involved in the film, and we caugh up with her when she was on the road in Oklahoma, with KENNY LAGUNA, her long-time business partner.

KENNY LAGUNA: I have the queen of rock and roll here for you. (Laughs.) That was easy, right?

Ha. Sure. Hi Joan. So how did you feel the first time you saw the film and saw someone else playing you?
I'm not so sure I can actually describe it. I was on set every day, watching a monitor, so it wasn't as shocking to me as if I had never seen it. But I was watching Kristen [Stewart, who plays Jett] be me everyday. I was hanging out with her and was around her as she was in character, so I don't think it was such a jolt when I finally saw it, because I was a little bit prepared. I was very impressed. She embodied me as much as possible.

What kind of direction did you give Kristen?
When you're you, it's kind of hard to direct someone how to be you. She had her own methods. I could tell that she was really watching me, really listening to me.

As far as direction, I just wanted her to feel free enough and close enough to me that she could ask me whatever she wanted. We did talk a lot and she would have various questions whether it was about an accent or about something The RUNAWAYS went through. I thought we were a lot a like, energetically and the way she is. And I thought there was a lot she did just naturally.

So I told her, 'Listen, just relax into it and be assured that if there is something that is way off base, I'm going to come to you and mention it, but I want you to relax and follow your instincts. And whatever you think I might do, or whatever you would do, just do it.' She needed to be able to relax and not think I was judging her on every movement. And I wasn't. I just tried to stay out of the way, really.

You've been approached about doing movies about The RUNAWAYS before. What made this one something you wanted to be involved in?
I never really wanted to do a film about The RUNAWAYS. I figured they would only screw it up. I really was not looking to do this. The Edgeplay thing [a documentary released in 2004] I didn't want to be involved with, because it was sort of a Jerry Springer take on The RUNAWAYS.


Kristen Stewart at 'RUNAWAYS' premiere in L.A.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning were on the red carpet for the premiere of their new film, 'The RUNAWAYS,' in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

"The RUNAWAYS" tells the coming-of-age story of the first all-girl rock band, Southern California teenagers who were thrust into rock stardom. Real-life rocker JOAN JETT is played by Kristen Stewart in the film.

"It's surreal, it's amazing and I'm grateful that it's out there and that people will have a chance to look at the RUNAWAYS and, if they're interested, can go search out more stuff," said Jett.


Behind the Scenes of 'The RUNAWAYS'

low resolution image Not Enlargeable "Kristen, you are so hot!"

In the appropriately rank alley behind a small Los Angeles club called the Smell, Cherie Currie, former lead singer of the '70s all-girl band the RUNAWAYS, yells out to ingenue-of-the-moment Kristen Stewart, standing a few feet away.

Currie could easily be referring to the actress' body temperature: The midday July weather is sweltering, and Stewart, dressed head-to-toe in black leather for the role of Currie's onetime bandmate JOAN JETT in The RUNAWAYS, is wiping sweat from her forehead. Stewart is on a smoke break; beside her, Dakota Fanning, who plays Currie in the movie, munches on a veggie doodle. While two Twilight fans linger near a Dumpster down the block, hoping to glimpse the franchise's stars, the paparazzi -- who have hounded the production all month, much to writer-director Floria Sigismondi's frustration -- are absent on this, the second-to-last day of the shoot.

Currie is actually talking about how good Stewart looks as Jett, and indeed she does. Minutes before, Jett, also an executive producer, chatted privately with Stewart, their heads bowed, each with a raised hand grasping a chainlink fence, looking almost identical in all but age. (Also, the 51-year-old Jett's 'do is shorter than her 19-year-old doppelganger's era-accurate shag.) As Stewart gets ready to go back inside, she smiles awkwardly and says simply, "So was Joan."

Millions of people probably know that Stewart cut and dyed her hair black last year, which is far more than can name a single RUNAWAYS song. (Neither Stewart nor Fanning had even heard of the band before being cast.) The RUNAWAYS were five teenage girls writing and performing aggressive, sexually defiant rock music during a time when all of their peers were older and few were female.

Yet the band's importance remains canonical rather than commercial. Though the self-proclaimed "queens of noise" could "actually play," as reviews at the time noted with surprise and more than a trace of skepticism, the RUNAWAYS never sold the records here (their biggest album, their self-titled debut, moved 25,000 copies) that they did in Japan. They recorded four albums in four years and yielded only one enduring single, the teasing, debutante-debasing "Cherry Bomb," on which a 15-year-old Currie promises, "I'll give ya something to live for / Have ya, grab ya, till you're sore."


JOAN JETT Plays the RUNAWAYS' "Cherry Bomb"

Tuesday night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, JOAN JETT dropped a "Cherry Bomb" on America.

Jett and her band the BLACKHEARTS ripped through a tight rendition of her 1976 rock anthem to support the upcoming release of The RUNAWAYS (in theatres March 19), the much-anticipated movie about Jett's all-girls 1970s rock band of the same name, starring Kristen Stewart (as Jett) and Dakota Fanning (as singer Cherie Currie). After the performance, Jett sat down with Leno for a brief chat about learning to play the guitar at 13, sexism in rock'n'roll, and working with Kristen Stewart.

"She was so authentic and so real," Jett said of the Twilight heartthrob. "We were joined at the hip. We were together all the time. She did an amazing job."

The film's cast and the band's original members have been busy preparing for the release of The RUNAWAYS. At the Sundance Film Festival in January, Fanning, Stewart, and Cherie Currie joined Jett & the BLACKHEARTS onstage at an exclusive, SPIN-sponsored concert to celebrate a screening of the film. And just last week, Currie spoke candidly to about the film, her friendship with Jett, and the dark side of life as a teen rocker.


Joan Jet interview:

JOAN JETT Rocks and Talks with Jay Leno

With The RUNAWAYS almost in theaters, rocker JOAN JETT stopped by The Tonight Show to perform one of the most popular hits of The RUNAWAYS, "Cherry Bomb", off the 1976 debut album that kick-started the success of the legendary all-girl group. After performing the now three decades old RUNAWAYS hit,JOAN JETT sat down with Jay Leno to talk rock and The RUNAWAYS now that Jett is back in the spotlight for the new film.

Although Twilight Saga star Kristen Stewart does a bang up job playing JOAN JETT in the upcoming film, The RUNAWAYS, there's nothing like seeing the real JOAN JETT live as she performs "Cherry Bomb" for a new generation.

Check out JOAN JETT as she sits down with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show after her performance of "Cherry Bomb".

New Greatest Hits Website

low resolution image Not Enlargeable With Greatest Hits coming out tomorrow, Blackheart will be launching a special website to coincide with the release. The website will contain the story behind each song, videos, streaming audio, and links to buy greatest hits digital, vinyl and cd.


low resolution image Not Enlargeable Seldom does an artist appeal to as many different musical genres as JOAN JETT.

Lovers of '70s rock and glam drool over her groundbreaking work with The RUNAWAYS.

Punk fans love the RUNAWAYS and her gutsy, adrenaline fueled solo albums AND her production work on the Germs' sole album.

Top 40, '80s and New Wave fans love her early '80s hits including "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", "Crimson & Clover" and others.


JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS to release 2-disc greatest hits package

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Former RUNAWAYS member JOAN JETT is slated to release a greatest hits album. On March 9th, 2010, her BLACKHEART RECORDS label will release JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS Greatest Hits, featuring songs including "Cherry Bomb," "Bad Reputation," "I Hate Myself for Loving You," "Crimson and Clover," and her jukebox anthem, "I Love Rock N' Roll."

The RUNAWAYS are most remembered for their raunchy mid-Seventies track "Cherry Bomb," released when Jett was only 15 years old. The all-female teen rock band was formed by Jett and her late drummer Sandy West in Hollywood. The pair were introduced by controversial entrepreneur Kim Fowley, who gave West Jett's phone number. Fowley managed the band until their break-up. The RUNAWAYS were often featured in rock magazines including Crawdaddy and the now-defunct, but highly venerated Creem Magazine. Jett, who played rhythm guitar in the group, was often pictured with her gol top Gibson Les Paul. Jett would later pursue a solo career after leaving The RUNAWAYS.

Jett (aka Joan Larkin) says, "Fans have been asking me for years and years for a new Greatest Hits album. There has always been interest," she said. "But, over the past few years I have been executive producing a film about my first band, The RUNAWAYS. In the process, I revisited the music and have really been living with it. It made me realize that it would be great to get it back out into the market place for the fans and for a new audience."


JOAN JETTÕs Runaway heart

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Before the RUNAWAYS ripped into the underground music scene in 1975, an all-girl rock group never stood a chance. Now, a biopic on the badass teenage band that featured JOAN JETT and Lita Ford will hit theaters March 19. While she's no longer selling CDs from the trunk of her Cadillac, Jett remains that raw rock legend who's still willing to empty her soul into a microphone and strum the strings off an electric Gibson Melody Maker whether there are 20 or 20,000 people watching. She's coming to Jupiter this Saturday to play a benefit concert for Safe Harbor's 23rd Annual Celebrity Dog Wash Festival with her band, the BLACKHEARTS. And, she told me in a recent interview, she'd be happy to wash a dog after her sound check.

How did you prep Kristen Stewart to play you in The RUNAWAYS?
We didn't have a lot of time to prepare, so I think she did some of it on her own. I gave her some CDs to listen to of the RUNAWAYS original music. I spoke to her for several hours about how I felt about the RUNAWAYS, what it meant to me. I gave her details I probably wouldn't tell most people. And then, she spent a lot of time just observing me while we were physically together. She watched my posture and the way I move through space and she sort of assimilated all that into her.

What do you think of the film?
I think it definitely gives you a sense of what we went through, what it was like to be in a band at that time Ñ certainly an all-girl band and what we were doing. The actors did a really great job and I'm excited to introduce the RUNAWAYS to a lot of people that probably don't know much about it.


JOAN JETT loves pets (and rock and roll, too)

low resolution image Not Enlargeable For the 23rd year in a row, local dog lovers will be able to bring their four-legged, bath-needing friends to Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary's Celebrity Dog Wash to have them scrubbed down by notables with big hearts.

But for the first time, some lucky canines could find themselves in the capable hands of a Blackheart.

"I've washed several dogs in my life," reports rock icon, vegan, animal lover, soon-to-be movie subject and Dog Wash headliner JOAN JETT, who will appear with her band The BLACKHEARTS at Saturday's benefit at Carlin Park. "I tried to wash my cat the other day, and it didn't work too well. She wasn't having it."

Perhaps felines don't appreciate the effort to keep them clean, but all of the critters who benefit from Safe Harbor's services as a hospital and no-kill shelter should be grateful for events like the Dog Wash, which raises money and awareness for the plight of the area's homeless animals.

Jett, who grew up surrounded with pets and goes out of her way to support animal organizations, says she's impressed with what she's learned about Safe Harbor, including its policy of not rejecting pit bulls, who are not accepted at other shelters.


Hollywood Feminist of the Day JOAN JETT

low resolution image Not Enlargeable The women at the Fusion Film Festival at NYU invited me to their screening last week of The RUNAWAYS. I'll talk more about the movie when it opens but I really enjoyed being exposed to a slice of women's history that I never knew about. My relationship to JOAN JETT began in the 80s when she came out with I Love Rock and Roll. Never even knew she was in a breakthrough girl band in the 70s.

Joan attended the screening and talked a little bit about what it was like to have created the first all girl rock band.

Here are some of the bits that Joan shared:
She is very proud of the RUNAWAYS and believes they did something important.

The RUNAWAYS were more successful in Japan and Europe and she believes that they were popular in Japan because of how women were treated there at that time.

When they got off the plane in Scandinavia they were greeted by thousands of blonde girls sucking on pacifiers but she never knew why.

People were really dismissive of the band in America because they were threatening.Ê She got such hate for trying to make art.

She doesn't believe much has changed in the last 30 years.
It's got to be the same in the film business- getting taken seriously. It's any area you get into. I don't think it's just in the music business, it's pervasive. For some reason people are afraid of powerful women. I don't really get it.

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