Joan Jett is very much a Long Islander. Although she grew up in Pennsylvania and Maryland then moved to Los Angeles with her first band The Runaways, her heart is here in Long Beach where she presently resides.
"It’s sort of a refuge," says Jett, 63. "The beach is calming and this business can be stressful. It’s a nice place to come home to and if I want the city it’s 20 miles away. I feel like I have the best of both worlds."
When she takes the stage with her band The Blackhearts at The Paramount in Huntington on Sept. 28 for the venue’s 10th anniversary celebration, Jett says she will feel a sense of comfort.
"I feel right at home here because the audience is really supportive," says Jett. "Being in New York is not as stressful as when I lived in L.A., which had a different vibe. I felt very uncomfortable and judged. People were like, ‘Whatcha got for us now?’ as opposed to just sitting back and relaxing into the music, which is how I feel New Yorkers receive me."
JETT MEETS LAGUNA
Jett made her way to LI from L.A. when she developed a musical partnership with Kenny Laguna of Long Beach, who became her manager/producer/keyboardist. At the time, The Runaways were breaking up but she still had commitments to fulfill.
"I was legally signed to a project for The Runaways about writing songs for a movie. We needed to write eight songs in six days," says Jett. "My manager talked to Kenny about coming to Los Angeles and writing these songs with me. We hit it off right away like best friends - really good vibes."
Laguna moved Jett to LI where their base of operations was. Together they formed the Blackhearts band and launched a solo career for Jett.
"We are different in some ways and alike in other ways. But, we are a team working for the same thing," says Jett. "We just want to put out good music and be on the road for as long as we can. There’s no formula for how it works but a lot of it has to do with trust. I don’t trust anybody but Kenny."
HIT SONG AND ALBUM
Although she initially made some noise with her debut record, "Bad Reputation," it was Jett’s sophomore album, "I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll" that catapulted her into stardom. The title track topped the Billboard charts for seven weeks.
"It was a song by a band called the Arrows, which was their b-side. It sounded like a hit to me but it wasn’t one. Originally, I thought it might be really cool for The Runaways to cover," recalls Jett. "But, we had actually recorded Lou Reed’s ‘Rock & Roll’ on our first album so we didn’t want to do another song immediately with ‘rock & roll’ in the title. They weren’t into it so I held onto it and tried it one day."
Jett developed her own style blending British glitter rock sing-along choruses and gang vocals with a punk rock vibe and attitude. However, she feels her tough but cool exterior can be misleading.
"Sometimes my image gives people the sense that I might be mean but I’m not," says Jett. "I like to treat people well. I’m a nice person."
She especially likes making a connection to members of the crowd during a show when looking out from the stage.
"I enjoy connecting with the audience. It’s a major part of why I do this," says Jett. "When I can look in someone’s eyes, they look back and we both have that smile, it’s a special moment that nobody can ever take from us. That’s important to me."
This past summer Jett has been working on a special project recording new versions of old songs in celebration of the 40th anniversary of both "Bad Reputation" and "I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll."
"We took songs from those first two albums and reworked them acoustically," she says. "It really opens up a different kind of vibe."
STADIUM TOUR IN 2022
Jett was scheduled to be part of The Stadium Tour featuring Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe and Poison in 2020. However, the massive production was sidelined twice due to the pandemic and is set to try again in 2022.
"It will happen if people do what they are supposed to do and we can fill stadiums with vaccinated people. I’m not so sure they are going to do that without it," says Jett. "I’m hopeful but I was hopeful last year too. We’ll see. I’m preparing either way."
Regardless, Jett will be at The Paramount delivering her set full of hits like "I Hate Myself for Loving You," "Cherry Bomb," "Crimson and Clover," "Bad Reputation" and of course, "I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll."
"When you are locked in with your band playing music and it’s all working, there’s no better feeling," she says. "That’s what we are always chasing and makes it all worth it."
JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS
WHEN/WHERE 8 p.m., Tuesday, The Paramount, 370 New York Avenue in Huntington
INFO 631-673-7300, paramountny.com