Her birth name is Joan Larkin, but she legally changed it in the early '80s. She came up with the "Jett" moniker after hanging out at a Sunset Strip club called Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco, where all the fabulous people used outlandish names.
She is a huge fan of the New York Liberty of the WNBA, and can often be seen sitting courtside at their games.
She began as a member of the all-girl rock group The Runaways. Future heavy metal queen Lita Ford
was a bandmate.
Jett starred in the movie The Light of Day with Michael J. Fox. She also appeared in the stage version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a bald head, and acted in a movie about the Runaways called We're All Crazy Now, with actresses playing the other band members. That film was never released, but in 2010, the biopic The Runaways hit theaters, with Kristen Stewart portraying Jett.
In 1979, she released two songs in Holland that she had recorded with ex-Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones.
Her first album, initially released in 1980, features Blondie members Clem Snide and Frank Infante. It was originally titled Joan Jett when she released it on her own label, Blackheart Records, but when she signed with Boardwalk Records, they renamed it Bad Reputation. Her subsequent albums were credited to Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, but Jett remained the focus, always appearing alone on the covers.
Jett produced many of her own recordings and has done production work for others. Her credits include the Peaches track "I Don't Give A..." and the Bikini Kill song "Rebel Girl."
She was a staunch supporter of the politician Howard Dean, the governor of Vermont from 1991-2003. When Dean ran for President in 2004, Jett accompanied him to the Iowa caucus, where in his speech to supporters, the candidate let forth a scream of excitement that came off as un-presidential. The media seized the moment, and Dean's campaign was doomed. Jett was onstage at the time - she says the media got it all wrong; the scream was not angry but effervescent.
Ricky Byrd, lead guitarist for the Blackhearts from 1981-1991, knows the importance of style. In the book MTV Ruled the World - The Early Years of Music Video, when asked if he thought fashion was important to a band's success, he answerd: "Oh come on, man, it led everything. Billy Idol was great with videos. People would see them and start dressing like him. Look at Madonna. Would Madonna be so big if video wasn't around, so people could see what she does? If you were a kid, and you just heard one of those songs on the radio, would you be as impressed as if you saw her rolling around on the floor? Shock value is hard to put across on the radio, unless you're Jim Morrison or something like that... if it's just outward sex appeal that's in the words."
Joan Jett And The Blackhearts went into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, making Jett the first female bandleader inducted. Unusually, her producer, Kenny Laguna, entered as a Blackheart (along with Gary Ryan, Lee Crystal and Ricky Byrd) even though he wasn't a band member.
She became one of the first female artists to found her own record label when she and producer/songwriter Kenny Laguna launched Blackheart Records in 1980. Aside from releasing Joan Jett & The Blackhearts albums, the label also helmed releases by hip-hop artists Big Daddy Kane and Professor Griff, and punk acts like The Eyeliners and The Dollyrots.