Last week there was a lot of talk on the internet about whether Joan Jett belonged in the R&R Hall of Fame. Many people asked the question “If she is in why not Pat Benatar?”
I have photographed both of these ladies many times and I can say that both of them deserve to be in the rock hall!
I first photographed Joan when she was in the Runaways, Americas first manufactured all girl punk band. They had a lot of energy, but Joan stood out as the only member who actually seemed to have a punk attitude. Lita Ford went on to become a metal star, but Joan remained true to her punk roots, and started a solo career. She would not let anyone have a photo pass to her shows, so I started sneaking in and shooting from the crowd. The pictures were valuable, because nobody had any good pictures of her. Then, one day in 1985, I got a call from a publicist at Epic Records, asking if I wanted a photo pass for one of her area shows! Holy crap- she was going to let me shoot the right way. I went up to the box office, and there was a note with my pass asking me to come backstage before the show. When I arrived back there, her manager, Kenny Laguna shook my hand and then yelled out “Hey Joan, come out and meet the guy who has been sneaking pictures of you for the last few years.” Joan came into the room and told me how much she liked my pictures, and we became friends.
In April of 1986, I got a call from the producer of a film being shot in the Chicago suburbs. It was called “Light of Day”, named after a Bruce Springsteen lyric and written and directed by Paul Schrader. It starred Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett as brothers and sisters who fronted a rock band from Cleveland. Kenny had recommended that Paul Schrader meet me, as one of my photographs had recently been on the cover of Newsweek (Bruce Springsteen). I went to the set to meet with Mr. Schrader, and ended up spending 10 days with the crew shooting photos on set in Chicago and Cleveland.
In November of 1979, I went to a club in Chicago to photograph David Johansen. The opening act was a little tiny woman in a leopard skin outfit by the name of Pat Benatar. She had an amazing voice, and in true Chicago fashion, was booed off the stage. After her short set, I went to the washroom (which was right next to the opening act’s dressing room). The door was open, and as I walked by I saw her sitting in a chair in shock, ready to cry. I knocked on the door, and when she motioned me in, I told her how much I enjoyed her voice, and apologized for my fellow Chicagoans rude behavior. I then asked her if I could take some pictures of her. She said yes and we walked out into the hallway and I posed her in front of a pile of chairs.
That was the first of many times I photographed her as I watched her become a superstar performer. She most certainly belongs in the rock hall!!
Something to watch: A TV duet with Pat and Martina McBride, two of the greatest voices on the planet! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbv5iJEDzN8