Joan Jett facts: Blackhearts singer's age, songs and career explained

7 August 2023, 15:28

Joan Jett in 1985
Joan Jett in 1985. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Joan Jett is one of the greatest rock singers of her generation.

The American star is also a songwriter, a guitarist, a record producer and an actress.

Best known for her work as the frontwoman of her band Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, she was also a founder of punk rock band the Runaways.

In 2015, her band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  1. How old is Joan Jett and where was she born?

    Joan Jett in 2020
    Joan Jett in 2020. Picture: Getty

    Joan Jett was born on September 22, 1958 in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. She celebrated her 64th birthday in 2022.

    She is the oldest of three children of parents James Francis Larkin, who worked as an insurance agent, and Dorothy Jett Larkin, who worked as a secretary.

    Joan has a brother named James Albert Larkin and a sister named Anne Elizabeth Larkin.

  2. What is Joan Jett's real name?

    Joan Jett in 1985
    Joan Jett in 1985. Picture: Getty

    Joan Jett’s real name is Joan Marie Larkin.

    She changed her name to Joan Jett after her parents divorced and she moved to California with her mother. She thought that Jett sounded more like a rock-star name than Larkin.

    However, she later admitted that Jett was not actually her mother’s maiden name, as she used to tell people.

    She also said that she was inspired by Suzi Quatro, a rock singer and bassist who had a similar look and style.

    Joan Jett is a name that reflects her passion for rock music and her rebellious attitude.

  3. How did Joan Jett get her start in music and what is she doing now?

    The Runaways
    The Runaways. Picture: Getty

    Joan Jett got her start in music when she was 14 years old and received her first guitar as a gift.

    She taught herself how to play by listening to her favourite records and imitating the sounds. She was influenced by glam rock, hard rock, and punk rock artists such as David Bowie, T Rex, The Stooges, and The Sex Pistols.

    She moved to Los Angeles with her mother after her parents divorced. She met drummer Sandy West at Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, a popular nightclub for rock fans, and they decided to form an all-female band.

    They recruited guitarist Lita Ford, bassist Jackie Fox, and singer Cherie Currie, and named their band The Runaways. They were managed by Kim Fowley, a controversial figure who helped them get a record deal and promoted them as a rebellious and sexy group.

    The Runaways released four albums between 1976 and 1979, and had a hit song with 'Cherry Bomb'.

    They toured extensively in the US, Europe, Japan, and Australia, but faced a lot of sexism and criticism from the music industry and the media. They also had internal conflicts and creative differences, which led to their breakup in 1979.

    Joan Jett in 1976
    Joan Jett in 1976. Picture: Getty

    Joan Jett was determined to continue her musical career after The Runaways disbanded. She moved to New York and formed her own independent label, Blackheart Records, with producer Kenny Laguna.

    She recorded three albums with different backing bands, until she found the perfect match with The Blackhearts, consisting of guitarist Ricky Byrd, bassist Gary Ryan, and drummer Lee Crystal. Joan Jett and The Blackhearts became one of the most popular rock bands of the 1980s.

    Joan Jett is still active in the music scene today, releasing new albums, touring with various artists, and producing other bands. She is also involved in various causes, such as animal rights, environmentalism, feminism, and LGBT rights.

  4. What are Joan Jett's biggest songs?

    Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - I Love Rock 'N Roll (Official Video)

    • I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll: This is probably Joan Jett’s most famous song, and one of the most iconic rock anthems of all time. It was released in 1981 as the title track of her second album with the Blackhearts, and it reached number 1 in the US. The song was originally written and recorded by the British band The Arrows in 1975, but Jett heard it while touring with the Runaways in England and decided to make her own version.
    • Bad Reputation: Released in 1981 as the lead single from her debut solo album of the same name, which was originally rejected by 23 major labels before she released it independently on her own label, Blackheart Records. The song is about how she doesn’t care what people think of her or her music, and how she will do what she wants regardless of the consequences.
    • Cherry Bomb: This is the song that started it all for Joan Jett, as it was the first single by her first band, the Runaways, in 1976. The song was co-written by Jett and their manager, Kim Fowley, who wanted to create a catchy and controversial song that would attract attention. The song is about a rebellious teenage girl who runs away from home and causes trouble wherever she goes.
    • I Hate Myself for Loving You: This is one of Joan Jett’s most successful songs with the Blackhearts, reaching number eight in the US in 1988. It was the lead single from their sixth album, Up Your Alley. The song is about a woman who is stuck in a toxic relationship with a man who cheats on her and treats her badly, but she can’t seem to break free from him.
    • Crimson and Clover: This is another cover song that Joan Jett made her own with the Blackhearts. It was released in 1982 as the second single from their album I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll. The song was originally written and recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells in 1968.
    • Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah): This is another cover song by the Blackhearts for their album Bad Reputation in 1981. It was originally written and performed by Gary Glitter in 1973.

    Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - I Hate Myself for Loving You (Official Video)

    • Little Liar: This is one of Joan Jett’s most underrated songs with the Blackhearts. It was the second single from their album Up Your Alley, and is about a woman who confronts her cheating partner and calls him out for his lies and betrayal.
    • I Love Playin’ with Fire: With the Runaways, this was released in 1977 as the second single from their second album, Queens of Noise.
    • Victim of Circumstance: Another Blackhearts song, this is about a woman who feels trapped by her situation and wants to break free from the expectations and limitations that society imposes on her.
    • Dirty Deeds: Another cover song that Joan Jett recorded with the Blackhearts in 1990, it was originally written and performed by AC/DC in 1976.
  5. Is Joan Jett married?

    Joan Jett is not married and does not have any children.

    She has had some relationships in the past, but she has never been engaged or tied the knot with anyone.

    She has also been very private about her personal life and her sexual orientation, and has not confirmed or denied any rumors about being lesbian or bisexual.

    She seems to be focused on her music career and her activism for various causes, such as animal rights, environmentalism, feminism, and LGBT rights.

    In 1994, she said of her orientation: "I'm not saying no, I'm not saying yes, I'm saying believe what you want. Assume away—go ahead."