Who gives a crap about Lita Ford? Everybody knows Joan Jett was always the coolest member of the Runaways. She wrote the band’s signature song, “Cherry Bomb,” when she was just a teenager — now that’s talent. Jett also happened to be hottest member of the group, defining the ’70s rocker-chick look with her leather jacket, black mullet and perpetual snarl.
While her contributions to the history of rock & roll fashion are notable, Jett should be most praised for her involvement in changing perceptions of women in rock. She helped elevate the status of females in the simplest of ways: She wasn’t preaching, she wasn’t bitching — she was simply rocking. Joan Jett led by example.
Jett still seems to inspire, if not mentor, the younger ladies. She’s worked with other female rockers and riot grrrl bands including Peaches, L7, Bikini Kill, the Gits and Bratmobile. Jett also gets cred for collaborating with men who are notoriously difficult to work with, such as members of the Sex Pistols and genius perfectionist Ian MacKaye of Fugazi.
Jett’s new music (and specifically her latest album, Sinner) sounds a lot like the music the Distillers have been trying to pull off for years. As an album, Sinner‘s topics revolve around politics, love, gender and sex — heck, it even contains a dirty little ditty called “Fetish,” with porn-style lyrics that seems to be a response to the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Jett also included recordings of a number of cover songs that seem to be unlikely selections, such as an impressive and sincere version of the Replacements’ “Androgynous.”
Though some might say that her glory days have passed, Jett still hasn’t given up the rock or the roll. Not only is she still putting out albums, she’s been involved in a number of other ventures in the entertainment field, including work in quite a few independent movies.
Jett is touring this fall with dirty swagger-rock kings the Eagles of Death Metal, who are most recognizable for their cocky attitude, power-drummer Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age fame) and their mustache-mouth shout-outs to the “ladies” of the audience. They open for Jett this Friday at Mississippi Nights. And don’t worry — Lita Ford won’t be there. — Jamie Lees
8 p.m. Friday, October 27. Mississippi Nights, 914 North First Street. $25. 314-421-3853.