1982 Joan Jett And The Blackhearts – Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
Joan Marie Larkin grew up near Philadelphia and later near Baltimore. She began playing guitar when she turned 13. Her family moved to California and when her parents divorced, Joan changed her name to Joan Jett since that sounded more like a rocker’s name.
Joan was 17 when she and drummer Sandy West recruited Lita Ford and two more young women and formed the first successful female hard rock band, The Runaways. The group found success primarily in Japan and Europe but did not sell many records in the US.
After the Runaways finally disintegrated in 1979, Joan settled in England and began recording songs for a solo album. Paul Cook and Steve Jones, two members of The Sex Pistols, played on three of those recordings. One of them was a cover of a song by the Arrows that Joan had seen on British television: I Love Rock And Roll. They placed her first recording of the song on the B-side of a single that did not do well.
Joan moved back to LA to work on a movie project that was never completed. During the filming, she met producer Kenny Laguna. When the film project faded without being completed, the two of them relocated to New York and work on Joan’s solo album picked up again. Ariola Records entitled the album Joan Jett and released it in Europe in early 1980.
Joan and Kenny tried to find a record label willing to release the album in the US, but 21 different companies turned them down. They finally started their own record label and literally sold copies of the album out of the trunk of Kenny’s car at her concerts in the US.
In order to tour and support the album, Joan needed a backup band. She ran an ad in The LA Weekly that sought “three good men,” and the musicians who passed the auditions became the Blackhearts (although they replaced the drummer after their first tour).
After some success touring through most of 1980, they convinced Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records to create a new label to distribute their first album. They re-titled the album Bad Reputation and issued it on Boardwalk Records. They released the title track as a single that missed the Hot 100 but reached #48 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.
The group recorded a second album. The title track was a new recording of I Love Rock And Roll and sales exploded and the single topped both the Hot 100 and the US Mainstream Rock chart in 1982. The success of the record allowed the group to create a video for Bad Reputation that showed the group being turned down by a stream of record companies.
The group issued five more singles in 1982. The follow-up single was Crimson And Clover, which reached the top ten of both charts.
To help promote their first album, their next single was a recording from that album. Do You Wanna Touch Me stalled at #20 on the Hot 100 and #21 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.
The next two singles from the second album failed to chart. The third (a cover of Summertime Blues) only charted on the US Mainstream Rock chart, where it peaked at #24.
The group would not have another big hit until the top ten single I Hate Myself For Loving You came out in 1988.
They inducted Joan Jett and the Blackhearts into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015.
The members of the Blackhearts have changed over time, but Joan and her band have continued to perform at live concerts. The group is tentatively scheduled to tour in 2021 with Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, and Poison.
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