When you see her now, rocking her Gibson Melody Maker guitar (with black tights and sneakers, of course!) it's hard to believe that musician, actor, activist Joan Jett, has been entertaining and influencing the world for over 40 years. She's been a role model and inspiration for women, a huge influence on the Riot Grrrl movement, a high-profile and vocal advocate for animal rights and veganism, and, must we not forget, a supremely kick ass Rock n' Roll performer.
Born Joan Marie Larkin, the budding rocker took her first stab at guitar lessons at age 14, but quit soon after, when her instructor insisted on teaching her folk songs. Obviously, she picked it up again, and while still a teenager in Los Angeles, she formed the groundbreaking all-female Rock band, The Runaways, in 1975. After five albums and several worldwide tours, The Runaways disbanded in 1979, and Joan embarked on an extremely successful and well documented solo career. I saw her open for The Who at Madison Square Garden recently, and not only was she rocking as hard as ever, she hadn't appeared to have aged much since "I Love Rock n' Roll" was filling the airwaves in the 1980s. A walking advertisement for the benefits of a vegan diet if I ever saw one, she looked fantastic!
Always a lover of animals, she first became a vegetarian in the late 1980's after reading John Robbins 1987 book, Diet For a New America, which discussed not only the health benefits of a plant-based diet but the environmental impact of factory farming and gruesome details about animal food processing. She has been an outspoken activist for both PETA and Farm Sanctuary, lending her support by appearing in videos as well as taking part in demonstrations. In a testimonial for PETA, she said, "Cutting meat out of your diet is the best thing you can do for animals and your own health. Did you know its one of the best things you can do for the planet, too?" Keep doing what you're doing Joan, EVERYTHING that you're doing!