Joan Jett Talks Rock 'n' Roll, Justin Bieber, and Girl Power
If you ask us, there are icons and then there are legends. Icons are people we all admire. Legends are people who you, your mother, your grandmother, and your future children will totally love forever. And rocker Joan Jett is an effing legend.
She founded one of the first all-girl bands, The Runaways, in her teens. She proclaimed "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." And she inspired legions of girls and boys to pick up the axe.
So before she headed to Miami to entertain the crowd at tomorrow's Make-A-Wish Ball, we here at Crossfade just had to talk to this legendary lady and ask all about her incredible career. Oh, and what she thinks about Justin Bieber dressing up as Joan Jett for Halloween.
Crossfade: I can imagine you have been to Miami a time or two.
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Joan Jett: Oh yeah, plenty of times.
Do you like it here? You're such an East Coast girl. Don't know if Miami is your style.
I am very much an East Coast girl. But I did live in California for a while. I do like Florida. South Florida especially. And they seem to love rock 'n' roll.
You're performing at the Make-A-Wish Ball at the Intercontinental on Saturday. What is it going to be like to perform in front of people in ball gowns?
You kind of have to prepare yourself mentally. I'm used to playing for a rock crowd in a different type of attire, I suppose. But it should be fun. I think people enjoy getting dressed up and letting loose. Whatever happens, we are ready for it.
How have you not fallen off the radar all of these years? If you are 8 or 80, there is a good chance you know who Joan Jett is.
I don't think there is any real plan for that. You just have to do what you love and if people like it, well, that's amazing. I have always been dumbstruck by the wide variety of audiences that we have. It's cool.
Think you will ever retire?
I don't plan on it.
Well, have you ever taken a break?
Not big ones, no. Nothing more than a couple of weeks. I don't like to do that. I like to stay in my routine of staying on the road. Especially these days with the internet and the 24/7 world we live in. You step out of this world for six months and people are going to forget who you are.
Looking back, did you ever think you would be here?
When I was a kid in The Runaways, I didn't think about the future much at all. I think it was scary to project about that. I remember being 19 in The Runaways and thinking, "This can't go on much longer." You have to be a teenager to runaway from something. When you're an adult, it doesn't make sense, but I knew I just wanted to play rock 'n' roll.
What was it like to be an all girl group in the '70s when nothing like that really existed?
I'll tell you, for me, it was the most incredible experience. It was living a total dream and fantasy. It was showing girls other paths. It didn't just have to do with music. It has to do with anything you want to do in life. Don't stand behind the boys. You can't be told you can't do something because you're a girl. I got a lot of that when I was a kid. I got it even after the success of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." I learned you had to keep proving yourself. And I was fine with that.
The Runaways definitely shook things up when they came on the scene.
We didn't edit ourselves because we were girls. You disrespect teenagers in a way when you don't allow them to speak their mind. Girls think about sex, and all the other things boys think about. We were living it and wanted to give that fact a voice. Our music seemed authentic and genuine to me. But we definitely got in trouble for just being ourselves.
Do you love that women like Adele, Lady Gaga, and Beyonce are kind of taking over the music industry?
I suppose so. It will be really great when there is a lot of rock 'n' roll girls. And there really hasn't been any rock 'n' roll girls for years. I think it's very threatening when girls pick up guitars, drums, and get loud. It scares people. I don't really get it. Maybe some day that will be different.
Do you see a rock 'n' roll revival in our future?
I think it has to occur before there is a revival. There was a time there in the '90s with Bikini Kill and a lot of other bands coming out of the Seattle scene and there was a lot of commercial success for all-girl rock bands. Then it just ... didn't happen. Music happens in cycles. Hopefully, I'll see rock 'n' roll in the Top 40 soon. It's not really dominating the airwaves at the moment.
They made a movie about your life. That had to be pretty epic.
It was surreal. Very surreal. It was just such a positive experience. All the actors did an incredible job. Kristen [Stewart] really did, I mean, an amazing job. She did her homework and became me. She's such a hard worker. If anything, it got The Runaways to be talked about a little bit.
I hate to ask this question, but I listen to you and your music. What is on your iPod?
Here, I'll pull up my iTunes. Let's see, Bowie. A lot of David Bowie. I listen to a lot of British rock -- Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones. I love Gary Glitter. A lot of punk rock. Tons of The Clash. The Kills. Pretty much rock 'n' roll, mostly.
Random fact: Did you know that Justin Bieber dressed up as you for Halloween?
[Laughs] No, I didn't hear that. That's amazing.
-- Stacey Russell
Joan Jett as part of the Make-a-wish Ball. Saturday, November 5. InterContinental-Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza, Miami. The ball begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are sold out. Visit sfla.wish.org.
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