Joan Jett





AT A SOUTH BANK video studio, my first glimpse of Joan Jett comes when she is wandering around between takes. She looks the kind of thing one might find washed up on a beach after a particularly drastic oil spillage. She has a covering of black (leather, hair, face make up which intensifies the pallor of her flesh), has arms folded, is shivering and drawling complaints. Shaking hands with her is like holding a piece of ice. The reasons behind the appearance, however, become apparent later.

Waiting for Joan to take an interview-length break, I sit in the dressing room with manager/producer Kenny Laguna. Brash, semi-crazed and attending to business, both on and off the phone he relates a torrent of tales concerning the lack of belief in the Blackhearts displayed by employees of record companies. Especially American ones.

"They're all a bunch of arseholes," he observes, "guys who couldn't get laid in high school." He sticks a digit in the dial, still pursuing the original tape of the 'Bad Reputation' LP to which they own the rights but can't possess the actual article due to Broadway Records going bust. Concurrently a song, 'Little Drummer Boy', is astray somewhere in Canada.

Meanwhile, this video has to be paid for today in cash (ten thousand dollars) and a fellow is despatched with a platinum American Express card to collect the notes as Kenny wrangles with the video company chief for a discount.

All this bustle at the heart of the Blackhearts stems simply from Joanie's desire to play "straight down the line rock and roll to the people of the world." They've toured continually for three years and one gets the feeling that if the constant motion was to cease the whole enterprise would collapse in rather a dramatic style.

Things are kept at a boil which explains why JJ hasn't slept for two nights, began filming today at 6am and doesn't plan on finishing until 4 tomorrow morning when she and her Blackhearts also catch a plane to Munich to begin a six week European tour.

Perhaps graciously in the circumstances, I am found time and Joan and I adjourn to the warmth of the tour bus.

While staggering around in a nearly somnambulist state when not required specifically to do anything – as if she's gained the necessary discipline of being able to sleep on her feet – she wakes up almost spectacularly when necessary.

I nibble on a biscuit and switch on my tape recorder. She fiddles with the top of an American Ginger Ale bottle.

"When I was 11 or 12 I finally got the balls to say 'Mom, Dad, I want a guitar for Christmas and I don't want no folk guitar."

To continue reading this article and to discover many more (over 140,000 words-worth!), purchase Mick Sinclair’s Adjusting the Stars: Music journalism from post-punk London. 



mick sinclair

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