Suzy Quatro, Debbie Harry, Pat Benatar discussed on WGN Programming


We are celebrating the women of Rock on the day Players show Suzy Quatro, Pat Benatar, Debbie Harry and now rock icon Joan Jett. One of rock n roll's legends got her first guitar. When she was only 14 years old. She became a founding member of the Runaways in 1975. And then she formed Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, where her first hit was a song We opened with I love rock n roll that was back in 1982, and it went to number one for seven weeks in a row. She formed Black Hawk records, and she also gives back by touring for the past 20 plus years for the U. S. O He's an innovator on the music scene and named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. And that is Joan Jett. Hey there, Joe. Hey, Dave. How you doing? Excellent. Hey, thanks So much for hanging out with us tonight. My pleasure. So, Joan, I want to talk to you. How it all started for you. So you got your first guitar? That was really the beginning of all this, right? Well, I think I think he was 13. Because then my family moved to L A. And when I was 14, so I got it like The Christmas when I was 13. Yeah, And what were you? Where were you being taught at the time? What kind of music where you're playing. I wasn't playing anything I wanted to play. You know, I was hearing listen to radio hearing songs like Remember the song? All right now by the free really was One of the songs that made me want to make those sounds. It was something about the rhythm guitar in that song. It kind of bend slightly out of tune at points and I don't know. Uh, it hit me right in the crotch. But at 13, I didn't know that it was just something that made me want to learn how to make those sounds. So I asked my parents for get an electric guitar for Christmas and was very surprised. Pleasantly surprised. And they actually got me one serious Silvertone. And so I went to go take guitar lessons and, you know, being really excited about it. I wanted to go to teach me rock and roll the first day and So I don't know if he was just kind of Doing this because I was a girl asking to learn how to play rock and roll or if this is what he would teach any kid, But he said, no, we've got to learn on top hold smoky, so he tried to teach me on top of old Smokey and I went. I sat to that lesson. And that was the last lesson I took, and I went and bought one of learn how to play guitar by yourself books and sat down with my my records and, uh, kind of learned how to flight bar chords. Yeah, that really opened it up for you. And I know you were hanging out or you What place the night spot that really caught your attention was Ronnie being and timers? Uh, English disco, right? Yes, it was a very special place. It was a disco for for teenagers. They didn't serve liquor. And if you were over, 21, you're just kind of too old. So it was definitely geared towards kids. And they would play all the British singles that you that American kids never heard. So you here. So we and, uh, a band called the Sweet or Slade, Suzy Quatro T. Rex and just tons of great English music that American kids never heard. Three minutes. Hit songs and big choruses and handclaps, and it was, uh, really catchy stuff. And so that, you know, kind of inspired me along with that that early stuff that I told you about was deep purple and Black Sabbath. Um, mixed with the New York dolls and all this quitter stuff and that kind of became my style. And soon, you know, I mean, after that, when you got there 74 75 you founded the runaways would lead afford. Jerry Curry, Sandy West, Jackie Fox. It became huge and and you began touring quickly, like with cheap trick in Van Halen. Did that success come pretty fast for you? Well, we were we played right away. I mean, literally within a month of the runaways for me, we were doing shows. First. We were three piece and that was in. I'd say September of 75. Then by that December we had Change the line up and audition three and Jackie Fox and we became the five piece and you know, we we did go on tour right away, and we had a record deal right away One Mercury records so It's pretty cool. That's pretty cool. And you know Kim Fowley was handling some of that stuff, So I'm not really quite sure. How, um You know that that came about But the touring, um You know we were touring with. We talked a lot of a variety of bands. You know everything from like you, said Van Halen to cheap trick we were playing. We did gigs with cheap trick while they were playing the material from their first album, So that was like a really special time as well. I know you had mentioned before, and I've seen some interviews with you before that you felt like you know, at the time. You know the runaways. You didn't feel like he had a lot of direction. I mean, you were kind of on your own figuring things out. Yeah, pretty pretty much. We were just, uh, For me. It was It was all about the gigs. I wasn't really thinking much beyond that. Which could have been good or could have been bad. You know about thinking about my career and what would happen after the runaways? I just was kind of focused on really what was right in front of me, you know, writing the songs doing the shows. I wasn't really thinking about the business or how that worked, or Anything like that. I was since I was one of the songwriters. I did get money to publishing. I mean, you are, but yeah, but you were you were concerned about the music more than itself. You want the business center? That was my main concern. But I wasn't. I wasn't you know, thinking into the future about Oh, my God. What happens after this band or you know how long can this go on or anything like that? You were young and quite frankly, living for the moment which you should do with that, actually. Yeah, Absolutely. Yeah. Now I know you know, in the 19 seventies and I know you experienced. You know your fill of sexism in the music industry. You know, girls playing rock and roll. It just doesn't happen. How many times did you hear that? Thousands. Yeah. And you still, you know, people don't voice it as much, but it's more. Uh, that energy is still out there. Yeah, Let's just say that. I mean, you know you don't see you know, the music scene is not changed that much. It's not like you've got, you know, girls and bands. Playing guitar now that that are successful, The thing is, they're out there. They're all over the place. They're in every city every big city every small town. You've got girls in bands, whether it's an all girl band or a girl in a band with guys playing rock and roll. They're out there. It's just, um uh, you know, I guess it's got to be Sexism and I don't know what else to call it. You know, I mean, I When I started in this, I figured Rock and roll's sort of the free sort of medium people wouldn't give you crap for playing guitar. You know they'd be accepting. And I was completely wrong. You know, I thought people would be excited to see girls playing guitars. I was wrong, and But I'm not talking about the fans. I'm talking about something within the industry something within the power structure. It doesn't like it, And I'm thinking it's I think it's more the labels themselves that that just couldn't move the needle on this fast enough because I know you. You were told many times. Lose the guitar. Change your style. Your look everything else you know? Well, the Joan Jett experience is, you know the punk rock glam rock look and the music. I mean, it's a package.

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