Professor Lori Shipley
Spirituals to Rock and Roll
23 April 2016
Joan Jett Pioneers Through Rock and Roll History
America has been characterized by revolutionary people changing the aspects and perspectives of its citizens through innovative acts, movements, and even through word of mouth. Martin Luther King Jr. changed the outlook of millions of Americans on the racial division in the country by using peaceful protests and eloquently delivered speeches. Benjamin Franklin and the founding fathers pioneered an idea that a country could be run by the people, which was in direct opposition to the rule they were under in Britain. These two events have set forth a phenomenon in America ...view middle of the document...
Following along with this idea, it would take women years to break into the music scenery, especially in an industry that was so heavily dominated by men. Men dominated this industry because of the era it was born in, it was not acceptable for woman musicians to have harsh and obscene lyrics in their songs and dress like street walkers displaying heavy dark makeup. Joan Jett would show the world that women could hold their own and succeed despite the overwhelming odds against them.
Joan was born in 1958 in Pennsylvania and at the age of 12, her parent's moved the family to California. She received her first guitar not long after moving to West Covina and taught herself how to play it. In 1975 at the budding age of 15, Joan formed an all-girl rock band called the Runaways out of Los Angeles California. The group was comprised of five female musicians the final line-up included Joan on guitar and vocals, Sandy West on the drums, Cherie Currie on the lead vocals, Jackie Fox on bass guitar, and Lita Ford on guitar. These young girls struggled to be taken seriously from their counterpart male musicians and the Rock and Roll fans throughout America due to gender inequality. Joan comments on the public’s perception that producer Kim Fowley exploited their sexuality in attempts to make them more marketable:
I could say we were manipulated but I was aware of what was going on for the most part ... I knew people were playing up the sexuality. In a way, I liked that because women weren’t allowed to be sexual. I liked sticking it in people’s faces, but it was misread as us being toys and not being in control. Me, I felt in control. (Conniff)
The Runaways received harsh criticism from American's because they were shattering the notion of women that was held during this time. These ladies were young and defying the stereotypical look of a women’s band, "rejecting the sentimental and confidential lyrics of women’s rock in the 1960s" (Kennedy) consequently they did not gain much popularity in the United States. The Runaways released four albums that faintly scraped by; Americans could not accept the fact that their ideology of women was being ravaged by these young girls who sang about sex and rebelling while wearing provocative outfits. Unlike America, Japan and Europe embraced the Runaways’ bad girl style and music. As a result, the Runaways released a live set album titled “Live in Japan” that went gold.
After the early attempts at music fame failed in 1979 with the Runaways, Joan moved onto a solo career. Joan was again blackballed by virtue of her not fitting the convention of a Rock and Roll musician by 23 major record labels while trying to release her self-titled solo debut. She went on to release it under Blackheart Records that she and Kenny Laguna founded; making Joan one of the first woman to own her own label (Uhelszki). While releasing the Joan Jett album she formed the band The Blackhearts and was signed on to Boardwalk...