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Photo by Damien Monaco

By Tiffany Razzano

rmed with her first new album in 10 years, Sinner, punk rock's long reigning queen is hitting the road once again. This time, Joan Jett is headlining the Warped Tour, which, over the years, has become known as a venue for punk rock bands often more in the pop-punk vein.

"They asked if I was interested in touring this summer and I thought it was a great idea," said Jett, a resident of Long Beach since 1979 and who also owns a home, along with her long time producer, collaborator, manager and friend, Kenny Laguna, in Rockville Centre. "Kevin Lyman [the founder of Warped Tour], wanted to bring in bands that have a reputation of being where punk rock started."

So far the Warped Tour, which came to Nassau Coliseum on August 5, has been a "blast" and a "big, rolling, punk rock circus," Jett said. She's been having a good time touring with the younger, mostly male, bands, which often hold her punk rock stature in reverence. She plays on the main stage with many of the better-known bands, such as NOFX, Bouncing Souls, Thursday and Less Than Jake, which are bands she greatly respects. But she's also excited at the prospect of checking out the lesser known bands on the tour throughout the summer. So far, she said, the camaraderie has been great.

Laguna also said that he was looking forward to the touring with the younger bands. "Joan is interacting with them incredibly well," he said.

Jett first met Laguna in 1979. As the teenage Jett's all-female group, The Runaways, known for the hit Cherry Bomb, was disintegrating, he was called in to produce what would become their last album.

Laguna, who grew up in Oceanside, where he met his eventual wife Meryl, was already a veteran on the rock music scene. As a producer and musician, he had worked with a variety of well-known artists, such as Tommy James and the Shondells, Ohio Express, Darlene Love, Tony Orlando, The Beach Boys and Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers.

Though The Runaways were on their way out, Laguna and Jett forged what would become a lifelong bond. While he initially was only interested in producing records for Jett and co-writing songs with her, their relationship grew. Laguna evolved into her manager as well.

"I went out there to write some songs and produce the record," Laguna said. "I eventually became more involved than I wanted to be by becoming [Jett's] manager."

Jett followed Laguna to Long Island. She credits her position on Long Island for some of her success, despite the fact that she grew up in Philadelphia and her first band was based out of Los Angeles. Once she based herself on Long Island, she became a local band to the New York area. "Being a local band and having one foot in the city and one foot on the island was certainly a good way to have started out," she said.

Laguna produced Jett's first solo album, simply titled Joan Jett. This record was rejected by 23 major record labels. So, the duo decided to release it on their own record label. Thus, Blackheart Records was born. They used their personal savings to press the records, selling them out of the back of their van after shows. This record was eventually re-released in 1981 by Boardwalk Records under the title Bad Reputation, named after the well-known song of the same name.

After this album, Jett formed the Blackhearts. They released their first album, I Love Rock 'N' Roll, in December 1981. This also included a version of her famed Christmas cover, Little Drummer Boy. The album reached the Top Five on the Billboard charts. Its single, I Love Rock 'N' Roll, was number one on the Billboard charts for seven weeks in 1982. Other well-known songs of Jett's that have reached the Billboard charts include, Crimson and Clover, I Hate Myself for Loving You, and Do You Want to Touch Me?

Jett recently released Sinner, her latest album with the Blackhearts. This album includes more of Jett's classic punk influenced, politically biting rock music. "I feel compelled to write about politics because they are part of life," she said. "I've certainly been compelled by the messes in this country, which are scary. I have the right to speak out if I want to."

The label has grown as well, adding several other bands, including Metal Church, Big Daddy Kane, The Vacancies and The Eyeliners to its repertoire. Jett has stepped up to produce The Vacancies latest album, though she is no stranger to producing, having produced albums of some seminal punk bands, including the debut album by The Germs.

Throughout it all, Laguna has stuck Jett. In fact, he has made it a family affair. His wife, Meryl Laguna, whose parents' move to Rockville Centre inspired their move here as well as the "good school district," oversaw all of the visually artistic work for Jett, as well as Blackheart Records, including promotional photographs, music videos and album covers.

Their daughter, Carianne Laguna, a graduate of South Side High School as well as the University of Colorado, with a degree in fine arts, took over where her mother left off.

Carianne said that she was "initiated at birth" into the business, and that music, though she doesn't play any instruments, has always been her passion. "I was passionate about it, but never to play it," she said. "I've just always loved music. On some level I knew at some point in my life I would work with music. But life is long. You never know what you'll get into." Carianne has also admitted to originally being more interested in folk musicians, such as Billy Bragg and Neil Young, than the punk music she grew up with.

Still, she finds comparisons between the two musical genres. "I think there's something kind of the same with singer-songwriters and punk rawness," Carianne said. "Both have that real independent spirit, which I'm drawn to."

She also said that she's lucky to have such a close working, as well as personal, relationship with her parents. "It's interesting to work with my father," she said. "We get along amazingly and work together really well. Me, my father and Joan work together amazingly well. We have a great energy."

According to Carianne, Jett throws herself into the Blackheart label, as well as her music, 200 percent. "Joan is very much involved in everything at the label," she said. "We're all in a really good place right now with it and we work together so well. Joan is so into the music."

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