Virginia Woolf once said, "All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn... for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds." Had Woolf been a teen with a 'zine during the late '70s or early '80s, she might have said the same about Joan Jett — sans the whole "grave" part, since Jett is still very much alive. Instead of "the right to speak their minds," the literary figure could update it to "the right to plug in and rock out."
It's hard to overstate the scope of Jett's influence — especially on the female rock musicians who followed. Courtney Love, L7, Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and the Go-Gos all name her as an inspiration. Jett's four years leading her original group is currently being eulogized on the big screen in The Runaways. After the Runaways split, Jett went solo, but it wasn't until she formed the Blackhearts that she gained the acclaim she deserved and established her place in rock history.
A slew of Top 40 hits followed, including punkish classics "Bad Reputation" and "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." Even if the hit momentum waned, Jett built a substantial base of fans who sing along to her songs in bars and at karaoke nights across the globe. Drunken karaoke anthems aside, any girl who thinks rock 'n' roll's not just for boys should look to Jett as one of the matriarchs who carved the way.