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Alive in the Archive: Joan Jett

In Episode 15 of Alive in the Archive, we talk to the rock & roll legend and feminist icon about legacy preservation and opening the doors for future generations.

In the latest episode of Alive in the Archive, we are honored to feature rock legend and feminist icon Joan Jett!

Watch the full interview

In this episode, Grammy-nominated and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Jett acknowledges the importance of legacy for generations to come. Jett’s own work is an archive, transporting many listeners back in time to when women’s contributions to rock & roll were not as celebrated as they are now. In fact, for Jett, this celebration is still new.

“Look, I didn’t even feel accepted by [the industry] until we got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015,” Joan Jett says. “[…] All of a sudden, people were treating me as if I’d arrived like no one had ever said a bad word about me, and I’d always been looked at as this “rock goddess” or something. And it’s like, that wasn’t always the case!”

In every fight, there is resistance; alongside others, Joan Jett’s insistence and unrelenting effort changed the industry and American popular culture for decades to come.

In 1975, women weren’t encouraged to be rockers, and their work was certainly not revered in the cultural record. Her first band was The Runaways, and they paved the way for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. With Kenny Laguna, they created their own label that allowed them to spread their music. And spread it did, even when radio stations refused to play her. Fans took it to heart, going to stations with their fighting spirits until Joan Jett & the Blackhearts was played.

Joan Jett’s name is a hallmark in music, television, movies, industry, and humanitarianism. Her work with the Blackhearts has changed the entire music industry, giving people an outside-the-box icon for their outside-the-box lives and paving the way for independent indie labels and female rockers.

Jett’s work expands even beyond her own music. She’s overseen punk artists, been in the Broadway show The Rocky Horror Show, toured alongside other rock legends (Foo Fighters, Green Day, The Who, and others), and had her music used as NBC’s Sunday Night Football theme. But despite all that, it’s the intangible that’s most important.

“We’ve become so conditioned to measuring our music’s impact in dollar signs that we can forget what it’s really about—the music,” Jett explains. “Emotion. Expression. Giving a voice to those who aren’t satisfied fitting into whatever box they were given. I have lived this rock’n’roll ethic my entire life, and I am thankful to all those people along the way that let me be me.”

For Joan, the intangible hallmarks of success are “…more important than the hit records in making the world a [better] place.” Alive in the Archive celebrates the many facets that encapsulate one’s legacy and honors the act of preserving it.

You can watch the full Alive in the Archive interview on our YouTube channel (like and subscribe for more interviews like this one). You can also watch the full interview on our newly designed website.

You can also win the Joan Jett Olympic Special Epiphone guitar in the TFI GXRLCRUSH Benefit Raffle! This guitar is based on Joan's longtime favorite stage guitar and was donated by the feminist icon herself. Valued at over $500, it could be yours for as little as $100.

Enter to win!

To learn more about Joan Jett and her feminist contributions to culture, visit joanjett.com.


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Alive in the Archive
Alive in the Archive is TFI's interview series that seeks to amplify gender-marginalized voices by exploring personal archiving as a feminist act.
Authors
Emily Whitcomb