April 1982- 35-years ago the number one song in the country was I Love Rock N’ Roll by Joan Jett And The Blackhearts.
The song was originally recorded and released by the very British band, The Arrows, in 1975, written by The Arrow’s Alan Merrill, who claimed it was written: “as a knee-jerk response to the Rolling Stones’ It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It).
In 1976, Joan Jett saw The Arrows perform I Love Rock ‘N Roll on their weekly television series, broadcast in the UK, when she was on a European tour with her first band The Runaways. She first recorded the song in 1979 with two of the Sex Pistols: Steve Jones and Paul Cook. That first version was released on vinyl in 1979 as a B-side to You Don’t Own Me.
In 1981, Jett recorded the song again, this time with her band, The Blackhearts. This was the version that became the Number-One single for seven weeks in the USA in spring of 1982, and the one we recognize the most. Billboard ranked it at the Number-Three Song for 1982. The single was certified platinum with more than two million records sold. It’s on the list 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine and was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2016.
Jett was one of the first women to start her own label, Blackheart Records in the 1970s
There were always those pesky rumors that she was a lesbian. The subject of Jett’s sexuality has shadowed her for most of her career. She continues to play it coy:
“Anyone who wants to know who I am can just read my lyrics. I’ve always written about who I am. Look, in The Runaways I learned at a very young age, because I could see the looks in the writers’ eyes when they would ask me questions about the band and our offstage antics, and I could see from the way they asked the questions, that if I answered this stuff, that was all they were ever going to write about.”
“But that’s not what I want people to focus on. I want people to focus on the music. And if they want to know who I am, I write about who I am in the lyrics, so don’t be lazy-read the lyrics and figure it out for yourself. I sing to everyone, that’s the bottom line. You don’t want to say, ‘All right, you guys, you can’t be involved in this’. You want everybody to be involved. You want everybody to want you.”
Jett devotes much of her time to social causes including the Animal Rights organization, The Farm Sanctuary. Like me, she is a vegetarian, but unlike me, she is a spokesperson for PETA. In 2013, Jett was set to appear on the South Dakota Tourism float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But some ranchers from the state complained about the choice and she got the boot.
In 2015, Jett was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Last summer she and The Blackhearts were out on the road playing with Cheap Trick and Heart playing to sellout crowds. This summer she is out on tour again, this time backed-up by The Blackhearts.
A singer by the name of Britney Spears had a modest hit with I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll from her album Britney (2002), cracking the Top 20, but, it is considered to be a highlight of her Las Vegas show, Britney: Piece of Me.