Joan Jett & the Blackhearts should be on everyone’s list of Legendary Acts I Need to See Before I Die. If you don’t have a list, you should start one, and put Jett near the top. (Maybe between Bruce and Prince?)
She’s playing the Deschutes County Fair on Saturday (see “If you go”), so get ready to cross her off your list.
OK, but be warned: You’re going to lose this argument, friend.
First, Jett is a groundbreaker: She cofounded the all-girl teen-punk band Runaways when she was 15. What were you doing at 15?
Yeah? Did they make a movie about it? Were you its executive producer? Because Jett did for last year’s “The Runaways,” which starred Kristen Stewart as Jett.
Who’s playing you in your biopic?
Never heard of ’em.
As a solo artist, Jett brought the noise. With chart-toppers including “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” her thunderous guitar sound was writ large over the 1980s, when many bands, including so-called hard-rock acts, created new strains of cheese using synths.
Jett also knew her way around rock balladry. Take her cover of Tommy James’ “Crimson and Clover.” The gauzy close-ups of her lips in the video still stirs ancient adolescent longings in a stunted adult man. Further, reclining on a chaise longue, Jett bites a rose off its stem and spits it at the camera.
While wearing leather pants.
I rest my case.
Need more? Jett starred opposite Michael J. Fox in the 1987 film “Light of Day.” Also: The catchphrase-loving music press called her the “Original Riot Grrrl” and “Godmother of Punk.”
The woman who doesn’t give a damn about a bad reputation — but does serve as a spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and proudly supports the U.S. Military — recently put out a two-disc greatest hits set on Blackheart Records.
Jett founded the label in 1980 with her longtime writing partner, Kenny Laguna, effectively making her the first female artist to own and operate an independent record company, according to her official bio.
Finally, head over to YouTube and find the video for “Fake Friends.” Isn’t that the crunchiest, catchiest guitar riff you’ve ever heard?
Friend, you have some tickets to acquire.
Me, I have some YouTube visiting to do, too, though I’ll be viewing gauzy lips, chaise longues, slo-mo flower biting and leather pants.
— David Jasper, The Bulletin