Happy birthday to Joan Jett, who
turns 59 today! Although she has yet to label herself as either lesbian or
bisexual, the rock ‘n’ roll legend has also been an incredibly influential wlw
figure in music and mainstream culture for many years.
Joan Jett flipping off photographer Neil Zlozower while on tour in 1977 (x).
Joan Marie Larkin was born on
September 22, 1958 in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. She was the oldest of three
children born to a father who sold insurance and a mother who worked as a secretary.
In 1967, the family moved from Pennsylvania to Rockville, Maryland where Joan
attended Wheaton High School. She was gifted her first guitar when she was
14-years-old and tried to take lessons, but quit after the instructor kept
trying to teach her folk songs. When the family moved once again to West
Covina, California, the close proximity to Los Angeles allowed Joan to be that
much closer to the world of music and glam rock that she was so attracted to.
Joan on stage at a Burgettstown, Pennsylvania concert on September 1, 2017 (x).
As a teenager, she co-founded the
band The Runaways. Joan was the band’s rhythm guitarist, secondary singer, and
co-writer for their songs. Along with Sandy West. Jackie Fox, Lita Ford and
Cherie Currie, The Runaways recorded a total of 5 albums before splitting up.
Their break out song, “Cherry Bomb,” is still a rebellious girl anthem to this
day. By 1979, Joan had struck out on her own and began pursuing a solo career.
As a solo artist, she released the classic banger “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” but
soon teamed up with The Blackhearts to form the band Joan Jett and the
Blackhearts. In the 1990s, Joan faded from the spotlight and took on a
producing role. However, she remained in the hearts of women musicians and as
the Riot Grrl movement started up, she was dubbed the “original Riot Grrl” and
the “godmother of punk.”
In recent times, Joan has become a
politically charged figure who has advocated against war and intensive animal farming;
she is an outspoken feminist, vegan, and on the topic of her sexuality, she has
said: “I’m not saying no, I’m not saying yes, I’m saying believe what you want.
Assume away—go ahead.”