March 1982: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts Hit No. 1 with "I Love Rock 'n Roll"

Joan Jett

By 1980, The Runaways had fallen apart and Joan Jett seemed to be dangerously close to a professional standstill.

Already a rock & roll veteran at the age of 22, Jett retained the lead role while hiring three men to back her under the name Blackheart.

But her sophomore LP I Love Rock 'n Roll struggled to catch the attention of record labels and Jett's manager Kenny Laguna grew impatient with the constant rejection they received from majors in the industry. 

"I was looking at them totally astonished," Laguna recalled. "Pointing to this garbage and that garbage and wanting to know why the fuck they were signing it."

Unfazed, The Blackhearts self-released Jett's 1980 solo debut, selling copies out of the trunk of Laguna's car after concerts. As the buzz on the streets grew hand-in-hand with undeniable demand, Casablanca Records Neil Bogart came on board, picking up the distribution rights to Joan Jett (eventually reissued as Bad Reputation) and setting Jett up for her next release. 

Effectively ignored by the industry months before its release, Jett determinedly pieced together a 10-track glam-rock album, full of crowd-pleasing punch. Released in 1981, "I Love Rock 'n Roll" seemed destined for radio greatness, drawing fans with loud, three-chord rock & roll and its hard-nosed guitars. The song launched to No. 1 by early '82, lifting the album to No. 2 with its massive success.

Against all odds, Jett had a certified hit on her hands, launching her solo career with a rowdy title track that officially put Jett's discovery days in the past. 

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(Warner Bros)
The song was #1 in America for three weeks in September and October 1985.
Darin Back
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Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
'Cause everybody's living in a material world.

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