5 Intriguing Joan Jett Facts That May Surprise Even Die-Hard Runaway Fans

Joan Jett, the jet-black hair and leather-clad embodiment of rock and roll, has been battling against stereotypes and smashing the glass ceiling of the music industry for decades.

From a young age, she was told girls couldn’t play rock and roll. Her first band faced a barrage of sexist hostility, and her debut solo album was snubbed by 23 record labels. But did any of this deter her? Not a chance. Joan Jett simply strapped on her guitar and strutted forward with a swagger that left no doubt about who the real rock star was.

1. Joan Jett Started Drumming When She Was A Child

Inspired by the gritty Rolling Stones album, ‘Let it Bleed,’ young Jett Joan taught herself to play guitar and drums, mastering classics like ‘Honky Tonk Women’ and ‘Satisfaction.’ In an ironic twist, the purchase of an organ for her parents’ church led to the sale of her drum set. Yet, even this setback didn’t slow her down. With the funds from the sale, she bought a new drum kit that was an upgrade in every sense.

2. Joan Jett As A Runaway

After leaving her family home, she formed The Runaways in 1975. The band’s journey was a rollercoaster of five albums, artistic clashes, and drug addictions that ended in 1979. But the end of The Runaways was just the beginning for Joan.

Her solo career took off in 1982 with the release of her iconic hit, ‘I Love Rock and Roll.’ And if you want a glimpse into her wild ride with The Runaways, check out the movie of the same name, where Kristen Stewart plays the role of Joan Jett.

3. Joan Jett Didn’t Want To Release ‘I Love Rock N’ Roll’

It’s hard to imagine Joan Jett without her signature anthem, ‘I Love Rock n’ Roll.’ However, it turns out she initially had no intention of releasing the song. She despised the recording process, and it took a lot of cajoling from her producer, Kenny Laguna, to convince her to include it on her album.

The song, originally penned by Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker and first performed by the Arrows in 1975, reached its true potential in Jett’s hands. It not only topped the Billboard Hot 100 but also secured a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.

4. Joan Jett’s First Gig Was Opening For The Rolling Stones

In 1975, a young Jett found herself living out a wild dream as her band, The Runaways, opened for The Rolling Stones in Los Angeles. Despite the chaos and the overwhelming noise that made it impossible to hear themselves play, Joan remembers the experience with a sense of awe and nostalgia.

As she noted in her memoir:

“All I remember is we couldn’t hear ourselves, and we didn’t know how to move on stage.”

Her concert experience wasn’t just a gig; it was a baptism by fire into the world of rock n roll, setting the stage for the star she would become.

5. She Refused To Take Part In The Runaways Documentary

Jett refused to participate in the 2004 documentary, ‘Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways.’ The film, produced and directed by former Runaways bassist Victory Tischler-Blue, delved into the tumultuous journey of the all-girl rock band. Despite the film’s fascinating behind-the-scenes insights and the portrayal of band members like Lita Ford, Jett refused to lend her songs to the project, which constituted a significant portion of the band’s repertoire.

When asked about her absence from the film, Joan talked about it to Montreal Mirror in 2006:

“If there’s gonna be a Runaways movie, it should be about what we accomplished, the tours we did, the bands we played with, the people we inspired. I’m not gonna participate in a Jerry Springer fest, bottom line.”

Despite Joan Jett’s objections to the documentary, garnered attention and sparked discussions about the band’s role in the world of rock. Though her stance may have disappointed some fans, it is her belief that the power of their music and the impact of their accomplishments should be their legacy.

Joan Jett And Rock N’ Roll

From a self-taught drummer at nine to a runaway rock star, and from almost passing up her biggest hit to performing onstage as an inexperienced rockstar with The Rolling Stones, Joan has navigated the unpredictable waves of the music industry with a gritty resilience. Whenever you’re listening to Joan Jett, keep in mind that you’re experiencing a piece of Joan Jett’s spirit that has been echoing through rock history.