For seven consecutive weeks 32 years ago, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts dominated the Billboard Hot 100 Chart with their remarkable cover of the Arrows’ “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
You could say that “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” is one of those instances in which a cover song garnered a more significant amount of fame than the original. The song was originally by the band Arrows, who released it as a single in 1975 with “Broken Down Heart” on the B-side. According to one of its writers, the band’s vocalist Alan Merrill, the song was penned as “a knee-jerk response to The Rolling Stones’ ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)’.”
The first time Joan Jett recorded “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” was in 1979 with Sex Pistols members Steve Jones and Paul Cook. Three years prior, Joan saw the Arrows perform the song on their eponymous TV series while on tour in England as part of The Runaways. In 1981, Joan recorded the song again, this time with her band The Blackhearts. A single was released on January 20, 1982, with the songs “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got,” “Love is Pain,” and “You’re Too Possessive” on the B-side. It was produced by Ritchie Cordell and Kenny Laguna under the Boardwalk label.
In exactly two months, the single reached the #1 spot of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and remained unmoved for a total of seven consecutive weeks. It was a certified platinum record by the Recording Industry Association of America. The single also performed well overseas, peaking at #1 on music charts in Australia, Canada, Netherlands, South Africa, New Zealand, and Sweden. Needless to say, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” was a major factor that helped Joan launch her solo career later on.
Today, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” is remembered as one of the finest rock songs not only by a female but by any musician in general. Critics have given it much honor and included it in several “best-of” lists – Q magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time, to name a few.
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