ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Joan Jett is a trailblazer. From the time she founded The Runaways in the 1970s to her career leading Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Jett has been at the forefront of music.
She’s even started her own label, Blackheart Records, where she serves as a mentor to bands.
Not to mention all of her hit singles such as “Do You Wanna Touch Me,” “Bad Reputation,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Summertime Blues,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and “Dirty Deeds.”
“I’ve been lucky to do this the way I want,” she says during a recent interview. “It’s taken a lot of hard work, but that’s what I’m about. I work hard to get what I want and continue to work hard to keep moving forward.”
But it wasn’t that easy. Jett ran into obstacles a lot because of her gender.
She says back in the 1970s, a woman rock and roll musician wasn’t common.
“Most of the time when I was starting out, people wanted me to drop the guitar and just sing,” she explains. “That wasn’t who I am. I needed the guitar.”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29
WHERE: Hard Rock Casino Albuquerque, 11000 Broadway SE
HOW MUCH: $20-$30 at www.holdmyticket.com or 886-1251
Though she had success with The Runaways, Jett didn’t break through in the music industry until 1981 when “I Love Rock and Roll” topped the Billboard charts. After that, Jett became a force to reckon with in the industry and became a staple various radio formats.
“Those were some great times,” she says. “It was nice to have that success again.”
Jett says when her first band, The Runaways, was together it was great, but dealing with the demise of the band was hard. She says The Runaways meant the world to her and she was devastated when the band ended.
“What we had was magic,” she says. “It was one of the best times of my life and we were just ourselves. A group of girls who wanted to play just as hard as the boys. It was different and we loved that.”
Jett also forayed into TV, film and Broadway. She starred in 1987’s “Light of Day.” Her songs have been used in countless movies and she’s been in the “The Rocky Horror Show” on Broadway.
Jett also was on set and helped guide the 2010 movie “The Runaways,” which was based on the all-girl band. It starred Kristen Stewart as a young Jett.
“It definitely gave you a sense of what it was like to be in the band,” she says. “The actors did an amazing job with the script they had.”
Having been in the band, of course, I’m going to feel that way too much is left out and that you don’t really get a true sense of everything we went through. But you couldn’t really tell the full story.”
Aside from running her label and making music, Jett also has lent her services to help various organizations. She’s been the spokeswoman for People for the Ethnical Treatment of Animals and a devoted supporter of the U.S. military, for which she often performs benefit shows.
“I’ve had a blessed career,” she says. “I consider myself so lucky to have been able to do things my own way.”