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Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Joan Jett never seemed overly concerned with glass ceilings. A very tough girl in a very male-centric industry, Jett simply showed up, rocked her ass off, and returned the next night to do it again, never referencing her gender to benefit her career. She was not a girl who played rock and roll; that would have been far too cute for the hard-edged Jett. No, Joan Jett was rock and roll, a force rather than a formula.

This refusal to play into, or off of, music industry misogyny helped propel her to hero status for legions of burgeoning female rockers throughout the Nineties — proof that rock and roll was but a state of mind. Jett has carried that mentality with her throughout her career, favoring big hooks and gritty songs that stand up as classics of straightforward rock and roll song-craft. Perhaps it's that staunch attitude of nonconcern that makes it feel just a bit odd that in recent years, Jett has focused more on gender identity and sexual orientation. Taken alongside the totality of her career, though, it serves almost as an afterthought, like Jett is conspiratorially confiding, "By the way, I'm a girl."


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