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Bad Reputation: The Unauthorized Biography of Joan Jett

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(Book). Bad Reputation is the unexpurgated story of Joan Jett, the single most exciting rocker of the American 1980s, one of the biggest-selling acts of the age, and one of punk rock's most valued elder statespeeps. Through its pages, a welter of exclusive interviews and observations paint what might well be the last great tale of rock hedonism, but one that comes with a t (Book). Bad Reputation is the unexpurgated story of Joan Jett, the single most exciting rocker of the American 1980s, one of the biggest-selling acts of the age, and one of punk rock's most valued elder statespeeps. Through its pages, a welter of exclusive interviews and observations paint what might well be the last great tale of rock hedonism, but one that comes with a twist in its tail. The rockers are women, the groupies are guys. It could have been the plot line for a movie or even a sitcom, but the Runaways, Jett's first band, made it happen, and Jett made it last. The first serious female rocker of the 1980s, Jett became the template for everyone that followed. But unlike so many of her peers and counterparts, she never lost her credibility, never sold out, and never gave up. And she has backed her reputation up with genuine star power, following the chart-topping "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" one of the most played '80s anthems of all time with "Crimson and Clover," "Do You Wanna Touch Me," and "I Hate Myself for Loving You" before the decade ended. And, while the 1990s saw Jett purposefully step away from the spotlight, she remained, and remains, America's number one Queen of Noise.


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(Book). Bad Reputation is the unexpurgated story of Joan Jett, the single most exciting rocker of the American 1980s, one of the biggest-selling acts of the age, and one of punk rock's most valued elder statespeeps. Through its pages, a welter of exclusive interviews and observations paint what might well be the last great tale of rock hedonism, but one that comes with a t (Book). Bad Reputation is the unexpurgated story of Joan Jett, the single most exciting rocker of the American 1980s, one of the biggest-selling acts of the age, and one of punk rock's most valued elder statespeeps. Through its pages, a welter of exclusive interviews and observations paint what might well be the last great tale of rock hedonism, but one that comes with a twist in its tail. The rockers are women, the groupies are guys. It could have been the plot line for a movie or even a sitcom, but the Runaways, Jett's first band, made it happen, and Jett made it last. The first serious female rocker of the 1980s, Jett became the template for everyone that followed. But unlike so many of her peers and counterparts, she never lost her credibility, never sold out, and never gave up. And she has backed her reputation up with genuine star power, following the chart-topping "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" one of the most played '80s anthems of all time with "Crimson and Clover," "Do You Wanna Touch Me," and "I Hate Myself for Loving You" before the decade ended. And, while the 1990s saw Jett purposefully step away from the spotlight, she remained, and remains, America's number one Queen of Noise.

30 review for Bad Reputation: The Unauthorized Biography of Joan Jett

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeri Lane

    I was really excited to see this book in my husbands hand as he turned it over to me at the library, thinking it would be something I would enjoy. (He knows my tastes pretty well). However, what I got from this book was very little actual biography of Joan; a little more glimpse into the Runaways, and a lot of strange trailings-off on the histories of places, glam rock/punk culture, and the stories of every other person Joan happened to come in contact with...as well as some people she never did I was really excited to see this book in my husbands hand as he turned it over to me at the library, thinking it would be something I would enjoy. (He knows my tastes pretty well). However, what I got from this book was very little actual biography of Joan; a little more glimpse into the Runaways, and a lot of strange trailings-off on the histories of places, glam rock/punk culture, and the stories of every other person Joan happened to come in contact with...as well as some people she never did (but they frequented her same locales). Just when I thought he was gunna get into the meat of the subject or touch on something symbolic, he goes on a 5 page detailed journey that takes us someplace else entirely. I was bummed. He certainly knows his stuff. His research is strong in every other aspect...He just didnt have enough information on this rock super star to carry an entire book alone. Which makes me sad. Somebody please write her story minus the garbage? Thanks...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Holmstedt

    After enjoying Patti Smith's "Just Kids" (and years ago, Grace Slick's "Someone to Love"), I'm reminded of the canyon-like gulf in intrigue between memoirs that women write about themselves and "unauthorized" biographies that men write about women to sell books. "Bad Reputation" is less biography and more of an extended but tedious essay on the rock industry from the '70s through the Riot Grrl scene. If you didn't know much about Joan before reading it, you won't know much afterward. Tiny compel After enjoying Patti Smith's "Just Kids" (and years ago, Grace Slick's "Someone to Love"), I'm reminded of the canyon-like gulf in intrigue between memoirs that women write about themselves and "unauthorized" biographies that men write about women to sell books. "Bad Reputation" is less biography and more of an extended but tedious essay on the rock industry from the '70s through the Riot Grrl scene. If you didn't know much about Joan before reading it, you won't know much afterward. Tiny compelling morsels of her life are padded with a sea of irrelevant information on her managers, collaborators and bandmates. Skip this and read Jett's Wikipedia page instead.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ephyjeva

    The idea that women could openly and publicly flaunt their sexuality on stage without simultaneously offering that same sexuality up to all takers was one that very few observers could comprehend. I'm sure that for a lot of people the Runaways' name is inseparable from the ultimate bop that is Cherry Bomb, and I get that. But have you ever heard it sung by Joan Jett herself? With the Blackhearts thumping out the famous raw beat in the background? I dig Currie's version just fine, but if I had The idea that women could openly and publicly flaunt their sexuality on stage without simultaneously offering that same sexuality up to all takers was one that very few observers could comprehend. I'm sure that for a lot of people the Runaways' name is inseparable from the ultimate bop that is Cherry Bomb, and I get that. But have you ever heard it sung by Joan Jett herself? With the Blackhearts thumping out the famous raw beat in the background? I dig Currie's version just fine, but if I had to choose, I wouldn't even think twice. Jett for life. That is part of the reason why I was so excited to dive into Bad Reputation. I could smell I was in for an utterly entertaining and informative biography. Prior to reading this book, my general knowledge of the whole glam rock scene had been very limited. Aside from a couple of the Sweet's hits and the notion of Slade's existence, pretty much all I had been aware of was the fact that by the early 1970s, some of the Ramones' original lineup had already gone through their hippie and glam phase, while Joey Ramone in particular went as far as adopting the name Jeff Starship and was notorious for dressing in glitter & gold. (I still crack up every time I try to imagine that.) That was before he abandoned it for Converse & leather and went on to sing the lead on the Ramones' self-titled debut album, shamelessly proclaimed by Cherie Currie as "one long song". (Which I'm still mad about!) That's where Dave Thompson came in, offering magnificent insight into the glam rock phenomenon, along with both its roots and consequences. Although I had already been familiar with New York punk scene, for some unfathomable reason, I simply assumed that Joan Jett was a part of it, too. Imagine my surprise as Thompson's narrative unfolded the history of LA music scene, informing me in a superbly detailed chronicle that the Runaways (Jett included), in fact, came from the West Coast. On the other hand, there were instances in which digressions like that only made the story drag on and on. Thompson's thorough explanations were sometimes really helpful, but a lot of the time I kept asking myself, was all that necessary? I'm reading a biography, right? I want to hear about Jett. Very little is said about her early childhood and family background. The author introduces her as a rebellious chick in her mid-teens, but what she was like before that is apparently left to the reader's imagination or Google search tab. My initial rating was almost sure to be five out of five—I held my expectations really high, though. And I'm not disappointed, really. However, there are some major flaws that in the end drove me to dock one star. I'll try my best to present them here: 1. The author fails to mention that Kim Fowley is an alleged rapist. Rumors have been confirmed and denied, Jackie Fox has opened up about it, claiming that Jett herself was present as Fowley proceeded to have her way with her. Taking into consideration that Fox was the first of the most famous Runaways lineup to leave the band, I was very shocked not to find even the slightest allusion to that incident anywhere among 250+ pages, regardless of whether the story is true or not. 2. Thompson states, on multiple occasions, that Jett has never made any attempt to hide the fact that she is gay. I was pretty skeptical, so I did a little research and found out that, strangely, Jett has never actually publicly come out. She even refuses to declare herself as either bisexual or gay. 3. For those who are not afraid to be as petty as I am, flip to the page 177 and you'll find the story of Desmond Child and Joan Jett's song-writing collaboration. One song stands out as particularly interesting, as it is stated that Alice Cooper covered it shortly after it was written by the afore mentioned duo. The title in question is inaccurately spelled House on Fire, while the correct title, House of Fire, just happens to be one of my personal favourites on Cooper's Trash album. But that's not all. If you go back to the stack of black-and-white photos and look closely at page 3, you'll find that the Runaways' names are not in the right order. Under the photo in the bottom right corner, the caption should be Clockwise from top left: Lita Ford, Sandy West, Jackie Fox, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. When I first saw it, I thought, you messed these up royal. I know this is not a life-or-death situation, of course, but I still believe that information provided in any biography should be reliable and correct. 4. Biographies in general are supposed to be an objective account of a person's life, right? I'm okay with a little praising on the author's side, but there was no need to bash Pat Benatar, Bonnie Tyler, Belinda Carlisle, or even Blondie (How do you even bash Blondie?) to accentuate the value of Joan Jett's music. Her story is compelling and inspirational nonetheless. This way, it really came off cheap. Overall—highly enjoyable and informative. I would recommend it to those seeking a thorough account of American rock 'n' roll revolution through 1970s, '80s and '90s. If, on the other hand, you're looking for information on Joan Jett alone, this might be a good place to start, but certainly not end your research. I also believe it would be a flattering read to any feminist, even though I'm not one myself.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt ONeil

    I think the book was mis-titled. Thompson gives the reader very little about Joan's childhood, no clue as to what drove her to be wise beyond her youth and hard driven to be respected as a legitimate guitar sligin' rocker, no more, no less. The book gives sort of a capsulated- mostly from qoutes out of other publications- history of the Runaways. Thompson does give us a closer but all to brief look at Jett's personal side during the transistion from The Runaways to Blackhearts. It's an almost fl I think the book was mis-titled. Thompson gives the reader very little about Joan's childhood, no clue as to what drove her to be wise beyond her youth and hard driven to be respected as a legitimate guitar sligin' rocker, no more, no less. The book gives sort of a capsulated- mostly from qoutes out of other publications- history of the Runaways. Thompson does give us a closer but all to brief look at Jett's personal side during the transistion from The Runaways to Blackhearts. It's an almost fluffy ride through what Joan Jett did with too little of why she did it. I find that the best biograghies- both celebratory and factual- of rock performers, are often long time fans of the artist who are able to turn a phrase. Thompson's done better. Ironically, by default, this may the best Joan Jett biography in print.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    Maybe I already have a decent knowledge of Joan Jett's career, but this book was kinda disappointing. Nothing new or super in depth, no reason to buy it if you're looking for greater detail or any interesting tour stories.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Workman

    A few good tidbits. A good job of compiling years of existing info to make a bio. Nothing deep. But an OK fan read. Some weird typos though. Kiss' Stutter? Thats bad.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    This is very much an overview of her music career where I was hoping for something a bit more personal. I probably shouldn't have expected that much as it is unauthorised and I did learn a lot about her career which I didn't know before but beyond that it's disappointing. The writer also has an irritating tendency of insulting other artists which I don't think's particularly helpful, especially when he's slagging off bands like Depeche Mode which I count among my favourites. I also feel like it n This is very much an overview of her music career where I was hoping for something a bit more personal. I probably shouldn't have expected that much as it is unauthorised and I did learn a lot about her career which I didn't know before but beyond that it's disappointing. The writer also has an irritating tendency of insulting other artists which I don't think's particularly helpful, especially when he's slagging off bands like Depeche Mode which I count among my favourites. I also feel like it needs some kind of warning for how often it brings up Gary Glitter, who's barely even mentioned in this country now and probably best known for being a paedophile. Whatever his influence on Joan and music at the time I feel like it's probably best to gloss over his name and allow him to be forgotten as he definitely deserves it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Two stars for the writing style, but because it is the story and history of Joan Jett, I had to give it three stars. It is great learning that Joan Jett is a generous entertainer, providing real rock and roll to our military overseas, fund raising for causes she believes in, and helping other artists. Nice to see the discography at the end.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    It would be far more interesting to read something Joan Jett herself writes, or from someone close to her. Author doesn't know enough.

  10. 4 out of 5

    kevin Guarino

    Good look into the success of Jett but didn't show her personality.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jane Lons

    A good overview of one of my rock heroes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dixie Diamond

    Wow, was this book boring. I'm not sure I knew it was even possible to write a boring book about rock stars, especially when it's also trying so hard to make everything sound amazing and kissing backside right and left. It's two hundred repetitive pages listing all the awesome things Joan Jett has done and how awesome she is and all the awesome versions she recorded of other peoples' hits and did it mention that Joan Jett is awesome? Well, she's awesome! It would have worked better as two pages i Wow, was this book boring. I'm not sure I knew it was even possible to write a boring book about rock stars, especially when it's also trying so hard to make everything sound amazing and kissing backside right and left. It's two hundred repetitive pages listing all the awesome things Joan Jett has done and how awesome she is and all the awesome versions she recorded of other peoples' hits and did it mention that Joan Jett is awesome? Well, she's awesome! It would have worked better as two pages in a teen magazine in 1981. (Unauthorized? Unlikely. Nothing this shoe-licking could possibly have been unauthorized.)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bjorn218

    The book was fair to good compared to other rocker biographies I have read. I think it was a little hung up on that Joan is a lesbian and was driving that point home at least once a chapter. Once stated is enough unless the person changes their viewpoint which obviously Jett hasn't since the Runaways. The good stuff was superfluous at best and relied way too much on data from previously public releases such as fan club news and magazine interviews. Overall it wasn't a bad read, just nothing remo The book was fair to good compared to other rocker biographies I have read. I think it was a little hung up on that Joan is a lesbian and was driving that point home at least once a chapter. Once stated is enough unless the person changes their viewpoint which obviously Jett hasn't since the Runaways. The good stuff was superfluous at best and relied way too much on data from previously public releases such as fan club news and magazine interviews. Overall it wasn't a bad read, just nothing remotely close to The Dirt or anywhere near that caliber.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    It's really hard for me to rate biographies, because no matter how good or bad an author is, most life stories are either really interesting, or dull, and nothing can change that. However, with Bad Reputation, I thought the author did a great job. Because a good part of the book takes place 20 years before I was born, I really didn't know much about Los Angeles in the 1970's. The author did a great job filling in the blanks, explaining the music and the youth culture that was so important to Joa It's really hard for me to rate biographies, because no matter how good or bad an author is, most life stories are either really interesting, or dull, and nothing can change that. However, with Bad Reputation, I thought the author did a great job. Because a good part of the book takes place 20 years before I was born, I really didn't know much about Los Angeles in the 1970's. The author did a great job filling in the blanks, explaining the music and the youth culture that was so important to Joan Jett's story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    As much as I like Joan Jett, I was disappointed with the writing style of this book, I found that it dragged and was like pulling teeth getting through it. General good information on Joan and her life but not written well.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Whittaker

    i must agree with everyone else...this was a so so book it wasn't terrible but i don't know anymore about joan now then before i read the book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    More of an anthology of a music category than a bio of JJ. Every recording, most concerts, all the other artists she influenced and/or was influenced by.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Meh, boring. No dirt.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Randall

    Part of my Woman in Rock series - I have always been a huge Joan Jett and Runaways Fan.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Armand

    Great book. I read it in one sitting.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thiala

    Here is a link to my review: https://thialasbookreviews.blogspot.c... Here is a link to my review: https://thialasbookreviews.blogspot.c...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mad Giles (Giles A. Madding)

    2.75 Stars As a lifelong Jetthead I really wanted to love this book, but alas it didn't really work out that way. It was okay. Had a few snippets from articles I hadn't actually read yet.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    Terribly written, but in the absence of any other comprehensive Runaways/Joan Jett info, this will have to suffice.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Long live Joan Jett.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I agree with the other reviews here--I don't feel like I learned anything new from reading this book. Too bad!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Debra Walser

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  30. 5 out of 5

    donny

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