I've already said that 2010 is the Year of the (Punk Rock) Memoir... and now, the paper of record even anoints one in its review of the feature film The Runaways in Thursday's edition (Cherie Currie's Neon Angel). Even though the Times' reviewer has positive things to say about the movie and its director (Floria Sigismondi), I happen to think they're missing the real story.
On March 19, which is the date of the movie's release, AMMO BOOKS (the folks who brought you the BOMP book by Suzy Shaw & Mick Farren that I suggest is Required Reading) will publish JOAN JETT. The author is none other than designer Todd Oldham, who "curated" the book's 30 years worth of interviews and photos with Joan herself. Riot grrl Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) writes the introduction.
For women Hanna's age, Joan Jett is the big sister who cleared the path for bands like Bikini Kill (and pretty much all the female rock bands post-1975 really). For me and my LA punk rock friends, Joan Jett was just the girl next door... who happened to become a rock star.
When you grow up in LA, famous people are par for the course. And when you grow up in Modern/Postmodern times, "fame" seems almost a reasonable career goal. Playing in a rock n roll band was definitely far more attractive than being a grocery store cashier or bank teller even though all those job descriptions entail being on your feet for the entire duration of your "job" ... true artists can't do anything but their art... anything else would be demoralizing and a betrayal to the soul. There are indeed short cuts to the top of the charts, but the one-hit wonder phenomenon betrays them... endurance is what sets the artists apart from the entertainers. Joan Jett is that Artist... a true rock n roller in heart and soul.
Joan Jett, friend, neighbor and rock star blazed a trail and continues to do so. The Runaways were the first of the LA bands of my generation to get a major record deal, inspiring all their friends to follow their hearts into their own respective arts. After the Runaways, Joan started her own rock n roll record label - the first woman to do so. She's still rocking and the label, Blackheart Records is still rolling. She continues to mentor artists, just as she did back in the 70s when she lent her fame (such as it was in the early days), her experience and her love of music to The Germs, producing GI for them.
With the movie, The Runaways, audiences will see Floria Sigismondi's interpretation of Cherie Currie's memoirs. In JOAN JETT, audiences will get unmediated access to Joan's memoirs in the authorized collaboration with fellow trailblazer Todd Oldham... like being able to sit in on a conversation!
I for one, am looking forward to reading this book to learn how Joan remembers the nascent days of punk rock and all our notorious parties on San Vicente... and all our mutual friends....
The Germs at the Whisky in 1977 - Joan was at this show
Backstage with Nigel Harrison at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium... Blondie and the Runaways did a few gigs together in the 70s
Monkeying around for the camera with Stiv Bators (1979 - published in Creem with the caption: "Stiv and Joan iron things out")
A more cozy photo opp with Stiv and Cynthia Ross (B-Girls)
Joining the Dead Boys on stage at the Whisky A Go Go (January 1979)
And the faces that were at the party that launched a thousand (or more like 10) careers:
With Billy Idol and Pleasant Gehman (May 1978)