When Joan Jett left the Runaways in 1978, she went solo — but couldn’t find a record label to save her life.
“We still have those rejection letters from 23 labels, major and minor,” she says.
That was the impetus for Jett to launch her own Blackheart Records imprint to release her music, which she usually licensed to larger distribution companies. And while “Sinner,” her first new album in 12 years, came out in 2006, Jett’s focus this year is in using Blackheart to put out others’ records.
“It’s a really scary environment now for any bands who are looking for a safe place or a company who can nurture them,” says Jett, 46, who was born Joan Larkin in Philadelphia and raised in Baltimore. “If (the labels) don’t hear hits, those bands are gonna be in trouble.”
This year Jett has taken three bands under wing — San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma, the Dollyrots from Los Angeles and the Vacancies from Cleveland. She co-write one of “Sinner’s” songs (“Change the World”) with Vacancies frontman Billy Crooked, and Jett showcased all three at this year’s South By Southwest Music + Media Conference in Austin, Texas.
“I do everything I can for these bands,” she says. “I feel a real responsibility to them, and I want them to succeed. They’re underdogs, kind of, but that’s something I like about them.”
Joan Jett performs at 8 p.m. Sunday (June 24th) on the EDS Stage at the Detroit International River Days Festival on the Detroit waterfront near the GM Renaissance Center Plaza and Promenade. Admission is free. Visit www.detroitriverdays. com.
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