Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

March 2013 News

Page updated on March 31, 2013
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JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS - Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, March 20

low resolution image Not Enlargeable While it would be easy to guess that Ms. JOAN JETT has joined the masses of geriatric rock and roll groups -- the 10 piece accompaniment band, the bedazzled Nudie-style stage costumes and the pretentious audacity to murder modernized "covers" of their classic tunes -- you would be wrong to do so.

Not only is Ms Jett still killing it live, she sounds more authentic and raw than your friendly neighborhood garage band. Somehow, the Geritol curse has kept its distance from the almost 55-year old godmother of modern rock and roll. She's kept her canon of classic rock songs vital and urgent, which is almost impossible considering Wednesday night she played almost an hour and a half of songs the audience knew by heart. The equation is pretty simple. Guitars plugged straight into amps, drums, bass, and one hell of a voice. Pure rock 'n roll.

The BLACKHEARTS took the stage to the sounds of Sandy Nelson's "Let There be Drums" playing over the PA. It perfectly set the tone for the incoming onslaught of guitars and drums. And with a "One, two, three, four," Jett ripped into "Bad Reputation," and the floor went crazy. She teased the hell out of us all trying to find Lita Ford in the audience (she was there, but never did grace the stage) before launching the Runaway's "Cherry Bomb," a song Jett wrote when she was just 15. She turned the entire venue into singalong. Backup singer of the moment Tommy Price started in on the Gary Glitter drum riff of "Do You Wanna Touch Me."


JOAN JETT Brings the Primordial Origins of Punk Rock Power Pop to Hollywood

low resolution image Not Enlargeable Punk rock is loaded with icons.

Every scene and microgenre has its respective players, characters, and cult figures that, over time, have taken on the might and sheen of mythological deities and epitomize the waves and movements to which they belong.

Darby Crash was the original post-Iggy punk rock nihilist, who lived fast and died young on the same exact day as John Lennon. Ian Mackaye is a dense exclamation point fueled by the political consciousness and sentimentalism of D.C. Hardcore. Kurt Cobain was the grunge slacker turned self-loathing rock star junkie whose much glamorized suicide is a pure encapsulation of the jaded, spoiled cynicism of the socially apathetic Clinton-era.

And then there's JOAN JETT.

Jett and her RUNAWAYS were brewed in the same primordial cauldron as the aforementioned Darby Crash and his Germs, as well as other first wave L.A. punk staples like X, Alice Bag and Black Flag.

However, Jett wasn't anywhere to be seen in Penelope Spheeris' scene-defining, 1981 documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization. And that's because -- much like Blondie in New York and The Clash in the U.K. -- Jett and whichever incarnation of whatever back-up band du jour she is touring with, has never been tied to the fast-and-loud-and-moshworthy recipe of 90% of punk music.

Debbie Harry had disco, Joe Strummer had reggae (and international music in general, really), and But JOAN JETT is an early progenitor of punk rock power pop, informed equally by the Ramones and Cheap Trick. You'll never see snot-nosed Los Angeles provocateurs FEAR perform at Hard Rock Live. But Jett and her poppy feel-good anthems that double as rockin' punk ditties fit right in.

JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS. 8 p.m., March 20, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets are available and start at $47.00, including fees. Call 954-797-5531, or visit

12 year old McKayla Performs JOAN JETT's song, "I Love Rock and Roll"

Australian/New Zealand Tour Cancelled

Regretfully, the planned JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS/The Darkness Australian/New Zealand tour has been cancelled due to an injury sustained by Ed Graham of The Darkness.

"I wish Ed a speedy and successful recorvery from his injury. I am very disappointed that we will have to cancel the tour and I look forward to rescheduling as soon as possible." -- JOAN JETT

SXSW Austin, Texas

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When you're a Jett

low resolution image Not Enlargeable JOAN JETT tells Lydia Jenkin why the recording companies must be kicking.

Having made a name for herself as a feisty founding member of The RUNAWAYS at the age of 16 and with hit singles such as Cherry Bomb already under her belt, you might've thought record labels would have been keen to sign JOAN JETT when she embarked on her solo career back in 1979. But no one was interested, as the now 54-year-old queen of rock 'n' roll explains, on the phone from Nevada where she's kicking off yet another tour with her long-time band, The BLACKHEARTS.

"There were 23 rejection letters, that we still have, from all the majors, all the minors. We sent them four songs - Bad Reputation, I Love Rock 'n' Roll, Crimson and Clover, and Do You Wanna Touch Me - all of which went on to become hits, and so you've gotta say to yourself, either the record companies don't listen to what people send them or they can't hear hits or, because they knew who I was, they had predetermined they didn't want anything to do with me and so they'd write me a nice blow-off letter."

But it turned out to be a blessing in hindsight, because it forced Jett to start her own record label with producer (and now close friend) KENNY LAGUNA. So now, more than 30 years later, she still owns all her hit songs and has had an amazing amount of control over her long and successful career.

"Nearly 40 years," Jett laughs, reflecting on the many decades she's spent on touring the writing. "God, when you put it like that, it's scary. But I love what I do, and if I didn't enjoy it, we wouldn't continue. I've been lucky with the success I've had, and you just kinda put your nose to the grindstone, and don't really look up."

She's set to release her 12th studio album this year, her first since 2006, having been working up songs during recent tours. They've been recording in LA and New York, and Jett is enthusiastic about the songs, some of which they'll perform at their Auckland show.

"This album probably has some of my own perspective of what I can see going on in society. There's a song called Reality Mentality, which is a little self-explanatory, with the explosion of reality TV and how real is it, and people playing up for cameras, people wanting to be a star at any cost, so it's just about taking note of that, not necessarily good or bad, just saying that's who we are. And there's one called TMI, shorthand for 'too much information', about how everybody goes online and shares everything about everyone."

There's also a more serious side to the album. Jett lost both her parents during the past two years, which triggered a couple of different songs - one called Hard To Grow Up ("about realising you have to take responsibility") and another, Fragile ("you know how we can be so strong, yet things can still be right on the point of breaking"). And there's also a more straight-up love song called Any Weather, which she wrote with Dave Grohl.


JOAN JETT leaves them wanting more at Casino Rama

low resolution image Not Enlargeable RAMA, ONT. - "A girl can do what she wants to do," sang hard rocking singer-guitarist JOAN JETT, kicking off her Casino Rama show on Friday night with Bad Reputation in front of a nearly sold out crowd.

Jett, now 54, is proof of that lyric after more than three and a half decades in the music business, first with The RUNAWAYS in the mid'-70s -- Twilight's Kristen Stewart played her in the recent band biopic -- and then with her next band the BLACKHEARTS in the '80s and beyond.

In fact, the 2013 nominee for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who sadly didn't make the cut, looked like a vision frozen in time.

Her toned and tattooed body -- may I suggest an exercise video? -- was squeezed into a black leather pantsuit while her signature spiky black shag has remained unchanged despite the passing years and her sexy rasp of voice was still as strong as ever.

"Hello Ontario, Canada," said Jett, backed by four musicians. "We are the BLACKHEARTS from New York City. Great to be here with you. I think you know what to do. We don't like it when you're too shy. We like you to sing out. We like you to show off. So go for it."

At least a couple of hundred fans gathered at the front of the stage from the first song and remained there for the duration of the fun, fast and furious hour and 10 minute set.

It was as if Jett, backed by lead guitarist DOUGIE NEEDLES, drummer THOMMY PRICE, bassist Acey Slade and keyboardist KENNY LAGUNA, had plugged herself into a light socket.

Her set list was a mix of RUNAWAYS tunes like Cherry Bomb and You Drive Me Wild -- "the first song I ever wrote," she said -- solo material, covers like Gary Glitter's Do You Wanna Touch, The Sweet's A.C.D.C., and Sly and The Family Stone's Everyday People, and likeable new songs like Make It Back and Fragile from a new album that she's currently recording.

Given her vitality, it's almost impossible to believe she hasn't released an original studio record in North America since 2005's SINNER, from which the song Naked was played.

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