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Sunset Strip Music Festival Honors Joan Jett

by Cynthia Jo
– Columnist —


Joan Jett

Music publishing can be the reason for launching someone’s career. In 1976 producer and impresario Kim Fowley, Joan Jett along with the rest of The Runaways signed a deal with independent music publishing company Peermusic. Fowley and Jett signed to Peermusic for publishing rights that gained them success in America—notably and most recently “The Runaways” biopic.

For the past five years the annual Sunset Strip Music Festival honors a musician that has altered the face of the music world. Years prior Slash from Guns and Roses, The Doors and Motley Crue have been named honorees.

When Joan Jett formed The Runaways in 1973 she never imagined it would take her so far that decades later not only would she be known as the Queen of Rock and Roll but that she would be honored by the city of West Hollywood and making the first of August officially Joan Jett Day.

Fans know that Jett has worked hard to be an epic staple in the world of rock-and-roll. At only fifteen, she began a revolution with all girl band The Runaways—making rock and roll not just a thing for the boys.

In a nostalgia-filled night the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip hosted the once in a lifetime experience. A short video presentation of Fowley began the celebration. Awards and tributes followed the introduction from the rockers friends such as Carmen Electra, Margaret Cho and Rodney Bingenheimer who presented her with a custom Gibson guitar. Witnessed by music supervisors, top executives and ultimately hardcore fans, it was clear that the excitement was geared towards the celebration of the Queen of Rock herself.

The love for the City of Angels and especially Hollywood, still shines in Jett. Her acceptance was bittersweet and humble as she reminisced the crowd about all of what she had to endure throughout her career—including 23 record label rejections with her band The Blackhearts.

“I have been intrigued by Joan Jett and The Runaways since I first saw them in Creem Magazine when they were just starting out,” said Gary Calamar music supervisor for GO Music who is responsible for music in Six Feet Under, House, Dexter and True Blood which recently featured The Runaways “Cherry Bomb.”

Hot young girls playing cool rock and roll was what intrigued the music supervisor about the leather jacket wearing, jet-black hair, kick ass rock star that Jett still is.

“I think Joan broke down a lot of barriers in rock and roll and I am glad that she has been honored. She has carried the rock and roll flag through the years,” added Calamar.

After the tribute the performance part of the evening kicked off with “Bad Reputation” followed by the legendary “Cherry Bomb.”

The performance as a whole was immaculate. Jett is a true artist and her vocals sound as amazing as when her career first began. Her energy translated the same way—so energetic and charismatic that it was hard to take your eyes off her.

“She is a part of rock history, she was inspired by it and for decades has made you remember how powerful rock and roll is,” said Janet Lopez from Neophonic (Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, and Glee).

Music Supervisor for NBC/Universal, Alicen Schneider believes that Jett continues to have so many awestruck that it really is what speaks to her legacy.

“That night’s tribute event was filled with a venue full of people who have accomplished a lot in their own right—giddily paying homage to one of the reasons why so many of them became music fans in the first place.”

The encore was definitely the highlight of the night for the fans. “I Love Rock N’ Roll” featuring Pat Smear from the Foo Fighters for the second time that night made everyone feel like they were on top of the world. Witnessing his clean guitar skills next to Jett with The Blackhearts backdrop was a vision of rock and roll heaven.

“We honor a maverick and trailblazer. She came up at a time and in a place that will never be duplicated. The Sunset Strip was formative of the rock music and culture we enjoy today,” music supervisor for Disney, Eddie Singleton said.

Jett enabled girls everywhere to believe—to believe that they could look up to the Philadelphia native when they questioned love, themselves and the American middle class. With three Platinum and Gold albums that stand behind her, her own independent record label and going strong at 54, she is truly the definition of what dreams are made of.

Joan Jett the Queen of Rock is the ultimate icon.