Joan Jett has been punk rock almost since the day she was born.
When she was 15, she was prowling the stage as a guitarist and singer in the groundbreaking all-girl group the Runaways, playing a fast and loud hybrid of American heavy metal and British punk. By the time she was in her 20s, she had produced (GI), the landmark debut album by Los Angeles gutter-punks the Germs. And by her 25th birthday, she had assembled her own brash band, the Blackhearts, best known for their 1982 #1 hit “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” — famously tackled by Britney Spears in her movie “Crossroads.”
So it should come as no surprise that now, almost 30 years since her career first blasted off, she’s decided to tackle the biggest punk-rock roadshow out there: the Warped Tour.
On Wednesday, Jett and the Blackhearts were added to the lineup for Warped ’06, joining a bill that already includes such acts as Motion City Soundtrack, Thursday and Rise Against (see “Motion City Soundtrack, Thursday, NOFX Already On Board For Warped ’06″ ). And for anyone worried that Jett and the ‘Hearts — who released their debut album back in 1981 — might not be able to keep up with their much younger tourmates, well, as Warped founder Kevin Lyman put it, you don’t know Joan Jett.
“Oh, I know she’ll be fine. Joan grew up playing in bands that drove around in vans and worked hard,” Lyman said. “She knows all about the grind. And she’s tough. I bet she’s tougher than a lot of these emo bands we get on the tour. I know she’ll spend a lot less time on her tour bus playing video games than they do.”
Jett isn’t the first punk progenitor to play Warped, which kicks off June 16 in Columbus, Ohio. Billy Idol played a handful of dates on last year’s tour (see “Warped Tour ’05: Backstage At The Punk Rock Circus” ).
“Over the past few years, we’ve started to take a different direction with the tour. We’ve decided that we’ve got to have a bit of history on the tour, that we’ve got to show these kids where this music came from,” Lyman said. “Joan is committed for the whole tour. She’ll play every date, and she’s also interested in talking to kids at each stop. She wants to talk to the girls who come out, who want to start bands. I mean, Joan was in a group when she was 15, so she can give these girls some great advice.”