If you don’t know what a “Jetthead” is, I know what you might be thinking. I scared the crap out of you with that “It’s not an obsession, it’s a calling” stuff in my tagline, didn’t I? Well, I assure you there’s nothing to worry about. A Jetthead is just a diehard Joan Jett fan. Honestly, we’re not that scary. Jettheads like to hang out and bond over Joan Jett, but we’re not a cult full of nut cases that want to control the universe. That’s Joan’s job. (Just kidding!)
I became a Jetthead in 1988, the day I saw the “I Hate Myself for Loving You” video on MTV. I was twelve years old. I was concentrating on my homework when I heard its iconic opening drum beat for the first time. I looked up just in time to see Joan Jett’s huge, brown eyes, daring me not to listen. I was hooked before the first “Ow.”
The rest of Joan’s music called to me like nothing else I had ever experienced. I tracked down her out-of-print vinyl. I joined the fan club. The more I learned about her career, the more I wanted to know. As a teenager, when everyone told her that girls couldn’t play rock and roll, she started a band (The Runaways). Barely in her 20’s, when 23 commercial record labels refused to recognize her hits, she started her own record label (Blackheart Records). Joan Jett is determined, honest, and loyal, and I hoped I could be the same.
I wish I could say that all my friends shared my enthusiasm. I eventually gave up trying to convert the nonbelievers and started looking for people who already got it. But connecting with Jettheads back then wasn’t easy. We didn’t have the internet, so there was no email, Twitter, or YouTube. Those of us lucky enough to be in the fan club received a newsletter via snail mail every three months. And there was a “Pen Pal” section to help fans get in touch with each other, also through snail mail. Fans in a few cities circulated fanzines, but I didn’t know they existed until years later. It’s not like I could Google that stuff.
When the internet finally did arrive, Joan Jett wasted no time developing an online presence. I believe that www.joanjett.com was one of the first band websites ever created, and it was the first website I visited when my school’s library first provided internet access.
Now we have Web 2.0. Not only can I make my own website that anyone in the world can see, but also with your comments, I can get instant feedback about how incredibly emo and ridiculous I sound.
But if you think Joan Jett and the Blackhearts don’t belong in a Web 2.0 world because they are a “retro 80’s act,” think again. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts have never stopped making music or touring. I could regale you with stories of hit singles, awards, movies, and rankings on popularity lists, but none of that really matters. What matters is The Blackhearts’ ability to bring it live. The shows I see today rock AND roll every bit as hard as the first show I saw at 15. I have seen many ridiculous trends come and go, and Joan Jett has outlasted all of them.
I am grateful for everything Joan Jett has given me. This is the only way I can think to express that. This is not a gossip blog. This is a place for me to reflect on Joan Jett’s music, how it’s influenced me, and to connect with others who like to do the same.