"The tough image was put upon me. I don't think I'll ever shake it...But personally, I don't really care. I just want to play rock and roll." - Joan Jett, 1981
Playing rock and roll and carving out her own path through the primarily male driven, testosterone fueled world of rock is exactly what guitar slinger Joan Jett has been doing since she was a teenager when she first exploded onto the scene in the mid 70's as a member of the all girl band The Runaways.
They say timing is everything, so to coincide with the recent Runaways biopic still filling seats in the movie theatres, American designer Todd Oldham has put together a magnificent looking and highly informative tribute that pretty much covers all the bases of Joan's life and career, from her modest east coast upbringing, through her time in The Runaways, to her eventual rise to superstardom as a solos artist in the early 80's.
Culled from over thirty years of interviews as well as Oldham's own conversations with Jett, the book is a very easy read and will give the reader a pretty good overview of her career. I can tell you though, if you're looking for a juicy 'tell all' biography then you have come to the wrong place.
Oldham's knack for delivering stunning visuals and his fine attention to detail is what really makes this book a winner from beginning to end. It's peppered with not only tons of great photos, most of them vintage shots of Joan with The Runaways and other famous luminaries of the day, such as manager / producer/ songwriter Kim Fowley and club owner Rodney Bingenheimer, but there's also handwritten lyrics, ticket stubs etc... which gives it a real scrapbook feel as well. If there is a downside to the book I'd have to say that Joan's original backing band The Blackhearts are barely even mentioned and I think it would have been great to have some of the former members offer up a few choice quotes of what it was like to work with her. Sadly other than long time collaborator Kenny Laguna no one from Jett's past has a chance to go on record here. It's really only a minor quip, and while I can definitely say it didn't take anything away from my overall enjoyment of the book, it did strike me as a missed opportunity.
If you're a true fan of Joan Jett then you're definitely going to want to snag a copy of this stunning coffee table style book. You'll not only impress your friends with your impeccable taste, but the chances are pretty good that you'll also learn something new about Joan along the way as well.