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Fans are still Joan Jett's friends

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The Joan Jett and the Blackhearts concert, April 14, at Pala Casino’s Events Center included the song “Fake Friends” and, prior to the song, Joan Jett explained its origins.

The group was formed in 1979 after her previous band, The Runaways, broke up. The Blackhearts struggled to find a recording contract. “We didn’t have a lot of friends except the fans,” said Jett.

Jett and Kenny Laguna, who wrote songs but was never a musician in Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, founded Blackheart Records. Their first album, “Bad Reputation,” was released in 1980.

“Eventually the people spoke,” said Jett.

Boardwalk Records picked up Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Their second album, “I Love Rock and Roll,” was released in 1981. The album peaked at #2 on the American charts. The title track was the number one hit for seven weeks.

When the band no longer had hits on the charts, the recording industry friends disappeared. Jett and Laguna produced an album called “Album” which included “Fake Friends.” That song peaked at #35 while the album peaked at #20. The Blackhearts would return to the top 10 in 1988 when the single “I Hate Myself for Loving You” peaked at #8.

The Pala Casino concert lasted 84 minutes and consisted of 20 songs. “Cherry Bomb” and “You Drive Me Wild” were originally from Jett’s years with The Runaways. “Soulmates to Strangers” was from the 2013 album, “Unvarnished,” which peaked at #47 on the charts, while “Androgynous” was from the 2006 album “Sinner.”

“Fresh Start” was written for the 2018 documentary “Bad Reputation.” Last year Blackheart Records released an acoustic album called “Changeup” and the 1984 album song “Long Time” was played in the acoustic format during the April 14 concert.

The fans at the Events Center were able to hear “Do You Wanna Touch Me,” “Everyday People,” “I Love Rock and Roll,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Bad Reputation” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You” (listed in the order performed). The closing song, “Whiskey Goes Good,” was first played at a live performance in March 2023.

The fans at Pala Casino enjoyed the hits of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. They also appreciated the newer material and the songs which preceded the success of the Blackhearts.

Sometimes those who attend an event think it went well while organizers who know what didn’t go as planned think otherwise. When a roadie has to go on stage during a concert to address a connection problem, the audience knows something went wrong. That happened April 14 and the audience still considered the concert to be enjoyable.

Another problem with the concert involved fans standing up which forced the fans in back of them to stand up. The fans in back who had to stand overlooked that and still appreciated the concert. Almost everybody was standing up when the Blackhearts performed “I Love Rock and Roll.”

Blackheart Records has produced the band’s most recent albums, so the fake friends in the recording industry are no longer necessary. The fan friends are still supporting Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and that was evidenced at Pala Casino.


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