Joan Jett was my favorite Rock star — and my second favorite famous person after Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mario Soto — when I was a kid. I listened to side one of I Love Rock N’ Roll on my crappy little box turntable almost every day — often multiple times a day — for more than a year. I turned the volume up on my equally crappy radio every time the title song came on Q102 or WEBN, which, at the height of its popularity, was about once an hour.
The collision of simple, classic guitar chords, Jett’s tough-girl voice and her goth-informed visage staring out from the album’s cover left me endlessly fascinated. As an early-’80s Cincinnati suburbanite, I’d never experienced anything like her. (It’s hard to fathom today that she was only 22 at the time.) She seemed simultaneously glamorous and kind of dangerous (maybe it was the leather pants and I’ve-experienced-more-than-you sneer?).
Though I didn’t follow her career closely post-I Love Rock N’ Roll — nor did I really get into her pre-solo ’70s group, The Runaways, like I did other bands of the Punk Rock era — I’ve had a soft spot for Jett ever since. And while a lot has happened over the last quarter century, the recording of much new material hasn’t been one of them; Jett, now 57 and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, has dropped only three albums in the last 22 years.
Yet she continues to play live and to burnish her image as a feminist icon and remains, despite shifting cultural trends, a figure as singular as any the 1970s has produced.
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