Joan Jett is back in the public eye with the release of The Runaways movie in March of this year, but the movie only captures a small portion of this rock-and-roll heavyweight’s epic and impressive career. Thankfully, Todd Oldham has released a beautiful and well-rounded monograph of the legendary artist, aptly titled, Joan Jett. Oldham compiles over thirty years of photos, interviews, and other unreleased ephemera in over 200 pages into a linear narrative that tells the story Jett, The Runaways, and The Blackhearts, all from Jett’s perspective.
The written story line reads like a casual conversation with Jett, who eloquently tells her story of struggling to find a place in rock and roll as a woman in the 1970s and her ultimate rise to fame in the The Runaways and The Blackhearts. The interviews are assembled fluidly, and reading her life story melds seamlessly with the other media included in the book. Many pages are dedicated to full photos of Jett performing and posing, making the book a work of art in itself. The pictures in this book make the words come alive, as Jett’s confident stage presence and heavily made-up uniform are part of what helped her carve her place in rock-and-roll history. Pictures of over 20,000 fans with arms raised at Jett, with her guitar slung over her shoulder in her iconic, prowling stance effectively show the impact she had on audiences and the powerful platform Jett had as a performer.
The quotes that accompany many of the photographs are timeless, and Jett proves herself to be true to her words as the quotes from 2010 echo the same sentiment as the ones from 1979. Jett always knew who she was and what she wanted, and she continues to be inspiring and consistent even in her fame. Her emphasis on the do-it-yourself ethics that got her where she is today, and her insistence of women’s right to rock and roll are visited throughout the book, driving home the point that Jett’s hard work has paid off for countless women who have wished to pick up an electric guitar, and the book showcases this all beautifully.