The Real Reason Joan Jett Didn't Want To Be In An All-Women Band

With The Runaways dissolved, Joan Jett's instincts reached out for another band. An ad reading "Joan Jett wants three good men" appeared in the classifieds and when Lee Crystal, Gary Ryan, and Ricky Bird made it through auditions, the first iteration of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts was formed.

The news may have given some pause. After all, The Runaways, the band that prepped Jett's later launch into superstardom, were an all-women band. The ad's emphasis on men reads as a turnaround. The Irish Times, however, relates the reason why Jett pushed so heavily against the idea that this was informed by some inner turmoil in The Runaways: "It wasn't that [I disliked being a part of an all-woman band at] all, because The Runaways were so special. To me they were the be-all and end-all — it was the best. To start another girl band would almost have been sacrilegious. Plus I knew the press would have just made comparisons — that I wouldn't have even gotten out of the starting blocks."

This is fully understandable, as it's easy to imagine the music press squaring her inside a "femme musician" category with constant references to The Runaways. By having a totally male backup, she cemented her right to being considered a rockstar on her own terms, even to the point of creating her own record label, Blackheart, after the early formation of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts had been rejected by 23 record companies.

Queens of Noise to Queen of Rock

After letting Jett's enthusiasm flow over them, some may wonder why The Runaways broke up at all. After all, they were the be-all and end-all. In a 2019 interview with Metallica's Lars Ulrich on his podcast It's Electric, she reiterated that the end of The Runaways was not due to a clash of personalities, but the result of the natural growth of different band members: "I was definitely more a straight-up punk rock, rock and roll thing. But you know, I'm fine with hard music. It's just that I think Lita and Sandy wanted to go in that direction much more than I did. And the producer we were working with at the time, his name was John Alcock ... I think he was sort of perpetuating it, egging it on a little bit."

In a conversation with Loudwire, Lita Ford, the lead guitarist of The Runaways, expressed a similar sentiment, though she doubted how punk Jett ever really went. Ford explained that while they were in The Runaways, they were all teenage girls who were still developing their hormones and maturing, so they had to break up to find themselves. Their lives were just beginning. As Runaway Cherie Curry told Blabbermouth in 2016, it's unlikely the band will ever reunite. Said Ford, "Joan Jett is very much in Joan Jett Land I guess you could say." Joan Jett has now become her own star.