“OUR MUSIC IS STILL PURE AND SIMPLE basic rock,” explains Joan Jett, “which is why our new record is called Pure and Simple. We never stopped playing threechord rock and roll. But sometimes I think other people forget what we do, so we just wanted to make sure we slammed it in everyone’s face.”
During a career that started nearly 20 years ago with the all-female Runaways, Jett has inspired a slew of musicians ranging from L.A. punks to many of today’s “Riot Grrl” bands. For her new Warner Bros. release with the Blackhearts, Jett sought inspiration by working with various female musicians who have followed in her footsteps. Several songs are the result of collaborations with Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, L7’s Donita Sparks, and ex-Babes In Toyland member Kat Bjelland.
“I’m a fan of their bands,” says Jett, “Donita, Kat, and Kathleen aren’t used to writing outside their own bands, so collaborating with someone else was a totally new situation for everybody. I reassured everyone that we were there to have fun. If we thought it was great, we’d keep it. If it was something that we didn’t like, then nobody would hear it but the two of us. The songs came together much quicker than I anticipated.”
Jett used her faithful white doublecutaway Gibson Melody Maker, which once belonged to Eric Carmen of the Raspberries, on most of the record. The guitar is equipped with Red Velvet Hammer humbuckers made by Red Rhodes in the ’70s. Her amp is the same Music Man 2x12 combo that she’s used since forming the Blackhearts in 1979.
Even though Joan has had a highly successful career as a solo artist, she is proudest of the gender barriers she broke down with the Runaways. “It didn’t matter whether you liked the Runaways’ music,” she relates. “What was important was that they made you get up and say, ‘Hey, I can do that, but I can do it my way.’ The point was to get more women involved in what was going on. It feels really good to look around today and see so many females playing and being involved in music.
—Excerpted from Chris Gill’s piece in the October 1994 Guitar Player