Here’s how Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of the "riot grrrl" band Bikini Kill, pays her respects to Joan Jett:
"Only Joan can do the things she does the way she does because she was truly and irrevocably born to rock, and she will always, always, refuse to listen to the voices that say she can't."
That's Hanna’s introduction to "Joan Jett," the brand-new, authorized biography of the former leader of the Runaways, the godmother of girl rockers.
Jett has been the subject of countless recent stories thanks to several new releases, in addition to “Joan Jett,” which was written by designer Todd Oldham.
The most significant is the biopic “The Runaways,” which opens Friday in Kansas City. The film tells the story of the all-girl teenage rock band that emerged from the outskirts of Hollywood in 1975. It created a whirlwind of hype and hysteria and more than a little scandal, most of it in response to the band’s overt emphasis on the girls’ sexuality.
In the film and in her biography, Jett makes it clear that for her, being in a band was about one thing: “We talked a lot about strategies and stuff like that,” she tells Oldham, “and for the most part it was really about the music. … It wasn’t about showing skin a lot, it was about the music.”
The Runaways were a novelty in 1975 because they were the first all-girl rock band to break into the mainstream. If their gender got them attention, it also brought them scorn, from men and women. As Hanna writes: “Some feminists didn’t like that Cherie (Currie), the singer, wore lingerie on stage or that a man had crafted the band’s jailbait image. Many male audience members felt threatened when they saw these teenage girls crashing their party.”
Thirty-five years later, the sight of a woman playing electric guitar — or any role — in a rock band is not so unusual. But has popular music evolved completely beyond gender politics and biases?
Women in some Kansas City bands had varied views.
Read the complete story at kansascity.com