May 17, 1980. Joan Jett fires the opening salvo of a solo career that will stretch out over four decades. And she does it with a hand from some well-known friends.
After The Runaways disbanded, Jett set off to record a solo album. With no band to back her–there were no Blackhearts in the picture yet–she enlisted a few names to join her in the studio: Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols and Clem Burke and Frank Infante from Blondie. It speaks volumes to Jett’s reputation and credibility that she was able to recruit such big guns for a solo debut with no label backing.
And that’s the real story here: Joan Jett was recorded independently, with producer Kenny Laguna using borrowed studio credits. And once the record was done and passed on by a number of major labels, it was pressed and released independently: Laguna would sell copies out of his trunk after Jett’s live gigs.
It wouldn’t be until 1981 that Boardwalk Records would re-release the album as the album you know and probably own: Bad Reputation. By that time, Jett had established her reputation as a rock-solid solo act, and the hits were yet to come. So props to you if you have a copy of Joan Jett on vinyl: you have a piece of rock history.