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Music

Listen to Joan Jett's isolated guitar for 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll'

Joan Jett is a titan of rock. In her first group, The Runaways, she bought an ice-cool charm to the all-girl band format, helping the LA legends to upset the idea of decorum and develop the role of women in the music business, challenging the male status quo. More broadly, they completely upended established notions of what a woman could a should be in society, and for that, Jett and her bandmates will always be revered. 

A fierce performer, and undoubtedly the most captivating of The Runaways, she quickly became one of the most influential female musicians on the planet, and it is a testament to her work that she was able to creatively flourish after The Runaways dissolved in 1979, and remain so relevant. 

Jett has carried the torch of glam rock ever since The Runaways first burst onto the scene in the mid-70s, bringing theatricality to her art and stagecraft, highlighting the influence of David Bowie, Marc Bolan and, of course, her adopted home, LA. 

Watch The Runaways full mouth-watering performance live in Tokyo, 1977

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Jett has retained the non-conformist and fluid exuberance of the glam scene all these years and has continued to influence countless budding musicians. It’s no surprise that she’s hailed as a God when it comes to the riot grrrl movement. In fact, Jett has had such a marked effect on the proliferation of riot grrl that her record label, Blackheart Records, produced some of the most notable riot grrrl groups around, such as Bikini Kill and L7. 

Although she’s an incredible performer, the most notable facet of her artistry is that she’s a guitar-playing legend. Without her work on the six-string, the likes of Bikini Kill and L7 would have been without one of their most galvanising influences. Whether Ted Nugent likes it or not, Joan Jett is one of the greatest guitarists of all time, and it’s a point that often gets overlooked. 

Perhaps the most well-known song of Jett’s is her cover of The Arrows’ song, ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’, which she released with her post-Runaways group, The Blackhearts, in 1981. She had seen the Arrows perform the song on their weekly UK TV series, Arrows, when touring England with The Runaways in 1976. 

Captivated by the track, she first recorded a version of it in 1979 with Steve Jones and Paul Cook, formerly of the Sex Pistols, which was released as the B-side to that year’s cover of Lesley Gore’s classic ‘You Don’t Own Me’. 

However, in 1981, Jett re-recorded the track with her band, and it was this version that would fast establish itself as a classic and confirm that Jett was more than just The Runaways. It became the band’s first and only number one, staying at the top of the US’s Billboard Hot 100 for a straight seven weeks. 

Given how timeless ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is, we’ve unearthed Jett’s isolated guitar track, which confirms her brilliance and puts Ted Nugent’s claims to bed. So sit back, and be prepared to be whisked away to the heady days of the early ’80s, when Joan Jett was at her creative zenith.

Listen to the isolated track of ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ below.

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