Joan Jett Brings the Primordial Origins of Punk Rock Power Pop to Hollywood

Punk rock is loaded with icons. 

Every scene and microgenre has its respective players, characters, and cult figures that, over time, have taken on the might and sheen of mythological deities and epitomize the waves and movements to which they belong. 

Darby Crash was the original post-Iggy punk rock nihilist, who lived fast and died young on the same exact day as John Lennon. Ian Mackaye is a dense exclamation point fueled by the political consciousness and sentimentalism of D.C. Hardcore. Kurt Cobain was the grunge slacker turned self-loathing rock star junkie whose much glamorized suicide is a pure encapsulation of the jaded, spoiled cynicism of the socially apathetic Clinton-era. 

And then there's Joan Jett. 

Jett and her Runaways were brewed in the same primordial cauldron as the aforementioned Darby Crash and his Germs, as well as other first wave L.A. punk staples like X, Alice Bag and Black Flag.

However, Jett wasn't anywhere to be seen in Penelope Spheeris' scene-defining, 1981 documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization. And that's because -- much like Blondie in New York and The Clash in the U.K. -- Jett and whichever incarnation of whatever back-up band du jour she is touring with, has never been tied to the fast-and-loud-and-moshworthy recipe of 90% of punk music.

Debbie Harry had disco, Joe Strummer had reggae (and international music in general, really), and But Joan Jett is an early progenitor of punk rock power pop, informed equally by the Ramones and Cheap Trick. You'll never see snot-nosed Los Angeles provocateurs FEAR perform at Hard Rock Live. But Jett and her poppy feel-good anthems that double as rockin' punk ditties fit right in.

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. 8 p.m., March 20, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets are available and start at $47.00, including fees. Call 954-797-5531, or visit

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Matt Preira