Byrd on the Beat: Joan Jett Earns Induction to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

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A couple of years ago, when Ann & Nancy Wilson, and their band Heart, joined the diverse roster of acts that have earned inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the thinking was that it would be a matter of when, not if, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts would get their turn.  We even said as much when the fan voting process for this year’s Rock Hall nominees, of which Joan was one of them, began over a month.

Well, it is official, the Rock Hall has revealed its list of 2015 inductees, and their turn is now.  With Christmas closing in, it’s the kind of gift that would rival any present.  Yes, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, famous for that anthemic hit “I Love Rock & Roll” more than three decades ago, will be inducted next spring into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

From the Rock Hall’s bio about Joan:

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts created a potent mix of hard rock, glam, punk, metal and garage rock that sounds fresh and relevant in any era. Their biggest hit, “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Number One in 1982) is a rock classic – as pure and simple a statement about the music’s power as Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” The honesty and power of their records make you believe that rock and roll can change the world. As Jett once described rock and roll: “It’s a feeling thing, it’s emotion. You don’t think about it. If you start thinking rock ‘n’ roll, you’re f–ked. That’s when you’re homogenized. That’s when it’s boring. And that’s when it’s bullshit.” From her days as a founding member of the all-female Runaways, Jett has made loud, hook-laden records that convey toughness and joy. Sporting black leather and a shag to create a sexy and androgynous look, Jett took over a role formerly reserved for male rockers. She formed the Blackhearts in 1982, and their classic four-piece sound (with Gary Ryan on bass, Lee Crystal on drums and Ricky Byrd on guitar) muscled past the synthesizers that dominated the 80s, and carried the flag for rock and roll. Three of their albums – I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll [1981], Album [1983] and Up Your Alley [1988] – reached the Top 20, behind songs written by Jett and manager Kenny Laguna. By covering songs from all corners of the rock catalogue – from Gary Glitter to Tommy James to Sly and the Family Stone – the band effortlessly broke down barriers between genres and eras. In the 90s, Jett’s no-nonsense attitude and vocal style was a major influence on the riot grrrl movement, and she went on to produce Bikini Kill and record with L7. She continues to be an inspiration for young female rockers. 

That “inspiration” part, of course, is rightfully justified.  After she received news of her induction, Joan told Rolling Stone, “I’m flabbergasted.”  You can read more of Joan’s reaction at

As has been the case over the years, Joan is amongst some very select company, and it’s not just because she’s the only female-fronted act in this class of inductees.  Joining Joan are the bands Green Day and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band; a couple of posthumous inductees in Lou Reed and blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan [with the latter’s band, Double Trouble]; Ringo Starr, the Beatles drummer who’s established himself just as much as a solo act; Bill Withers, famous for his early-1970s hits “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean on Me”; and an influential early-1950s rhythm-and-blues band called the “5” Royales.

Joan deserves our congratulations, and we hope that her acceptance speech will be every bit as powerful as her musicianship.

The induction ceremonies are scheduled to take place in Cleveland on Saturday, April 18, 2015.  No word yet on how those ceremonies will be televised, although last year’s event was taped and edited for HBO.


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