Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Headed to Rock Hall of Fame

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jjrorhofSomebody was listening when Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic introduced Joan Jett last year saying he couldn’t believe she’s not in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. It should be hard for anyone to believe who grew up listening to the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Jett filled in as lead singer for the late Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s induction performance. She completely rocked it, and apparently somebody at the Hall recognized how influential and respected Joan Jett is among her peers.

Following the announcement that she and her band, the Blackhearts, would be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, Jett responded via Twitter: “I think it’s incredible, I’ve very proud to be with all these great musicians.”
– #JoanJett #RockHall2015 pic.twitter.com/oRBq5e167P

In a Rolling Stone interview, Jett called the induction “a culmination of all you’ve dreamed about doing as a musician, reaching people, getting respect from other musicians,” but was otherwise humble. “It can be really hard sometimes to assess myself. I’m living it and it’s hard to step back and see the larger picture in terms of what the music industry thinks of me.”

What people think of her has never been a big concern, we suspect. She didn’t seem to care if she was playing to huge stadium crowds, as long as she was rocking. Over the years covering events, I’d see her in venues of every size, such as the small county fair stage, where the audience sat on bales of hay. Another year she performed at San Diego Gay Pride, though questions about her sexuality seemed to bore her. In recent years our paths crossed at a free small-town concert in the park. No matter how large the stage, with Joan Jett it’s always been about the music.

Her career took off as a 16-year-old founding member of The Runaways, the all-girl L.A. band that captivated so many teens in the 1970s. Their story was depicted in the 2010 film “The Runaways,” starring Kristen Stewart as Joan and Dakota Fanning as band mate Cherie Currie, which included the youthful romance between Jett and Currie.

Aug. 1 was declared Joan Jett Day in West Hollywood last year during the Sunset Strip Music Festival.

“I actually lived on the Strip, right across the street from the Whisky,” Jett said when receiving the honor. “The Sunset Strip is a piece of rock ‘n roll history. I never thought all of those insane times would turn into an award, but I’m very honored, and inspired to keep making music.”

She is best known as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and their recording of the iconic “I Love Rock n’ Roll.” The Blackhearts have been a revolving door of musicians, but original Blackhearts guitarist Eric Ambel had this to say about the Hall of Fame announcement:

“Joan’s better than almost anyone knows.  I never saw her do less than a kickass show from our first month-long Tuesday residency at the Whiskey A Go Go to the last gig I played with her opening for Alice Cooper at the Cape Cod Coliseum.  Of all the people I’ve ever played with only Dan Baird has the kind of rock solid immovable rhythm guitar clock that Joan does.  You can build a fortress on the foundation she lays down with her right hand.”

In 2006 her song “I Hate Myself for Loving You” became the familiar anthem for Sunday Night Football. In 2005, former Runaway Victory Tischler-Blue took a gritty, intimate look at the legacy of The Runaways. The documentary “Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways,” viewable on YouTube, contains footage from actual performances, and interviews with promoter Kim Fowley and all the band members–except Joan Jett, who didn’t want to support a “Jerry Springer” version of their story.

Does she think her appearance with Nirvana last year was behind her induction this year? She told Rolling Stone: “I’d have to be crazy to say no. It was so looked at. The guys in Nirvana are so well-respected with their own careers. I think it had to play a big role in how people decided which way to go.”

Asked if she thinks the Runaways will be inducted one day, she said: That would be a dream. It’s easier for me to talk like this as part of a group. I think the Runaways deserve it because of what we created. I think that’s part of the criteria. If we did, it would be an awesome thing. It would speak a lot to the growth of the way that people look at music. I don’t expect that, necessarily, and I don’t not expect that. We’ll just have to wait and see. It would great if even we were nominated.”

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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