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Jett Brando - Bad Reputation: The Unauthorized Biography of Joan Jett

  by Spencer Robertshaw

published: 27 / 10 / 2011

Jett Brando - Bad Reputation: The Unauthorized Biography of Joan Jett


Spencer Robertshaw finds Dave Thompson's new book on Joan Jett, while unauthorized, to be a very authorative and immensely detailed account of the Los Angeles rocker's extraordinary life and career

If you’re a fan of the dynamic, sexy Joan Jett and want too know the full story of her life, 'Bad Reputation'is perfect. When she was born under her original name of Joan Marie Larkin on September 22 1958, the music world didn’t know what was coming. 'Bad Reputation' is as informative and precise as a completed architect's drawing. From her first attempts at making music to the force that she is now, it provides its information in a clever way and with a strong delivery which stops the boredom factor that some biographies have. I was so taken by the implicit attention to detail that author Dave Thompson has managed to put to paper that it left me wondering how for an unauthorized biography he managed to get all its facts together without being at Jett’s side. In fact I am sure that Jett herself could use this book as a reminder of her career in rock and roll for all those hazy moments which one reads she has had. In the beginning and in its depiction of her first mid 70's teenage all girl punk band the Runaways, one is given an instant impression of Jett's sex appeal and what she was up against playing to mainly male audiences, who shouted comments such as "get your knickers off" whilst also covering her and the rest of the group in spit. As the punk scene evolved, it took Jett into its arms but even without punk one is left with the impression that Jett would have been absorbed into rock and roll history because of the force she was. In the early days the Runaways learnt very quickly what worked and came out of their baptism of fire still mostly wearing corsets and basks. 'Bad Reputation' covers upsets and band changes in both the Runaways and Jett's next band the Blackhearts in microscopic detail, and interestingly how many times she didn’t get signed and was overlooked by record companies who thought she was not for them. The classic Blackhearts single, ‘I Love Rock and Roll’, remained in Jett's mind for many years before she unleashed it on the general public. Originally another band's B-side, she knew it was special but had to be done at the right time. Any music historian must have this book as their reference point not just for Jett's rise, but also for its description of the rise and fall of punk and bands such as the Ramones and important members of the movement such as Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols. Nearly every prominent rock and roll band of the 1970s and 1980s and punk legend has a mention in this book, all of them having something to do with Joan Jett's life, and this was surprising to read. There are some great photographs to which show Jett's development from a young, fresh and wild kid to the sexy, clever force that she has become. In summary, therefore, if you want to know how Jett got the scar that goes from forehead to chin whilst drinking whisky and trying to beat up certain other rock and roll personalities, or pretty much every detail of her thirty plus years in the ‘game’, then this book is very much worth buying.

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