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Jett still loves rock and roll

Joan Jett

An accomplished singer, songwriter and guitarist, '80s rocker Joan Jett is proving to her fans she's still got what it takes.

"I really enjoy actually being on stage and actually playing the songs.

"I remember how I felt going to see bands," Jett, 50, said in a Daily Republic interview Friday morning. "It's any number of things, whether you touched them, someone in the band looked at you, you smiled together or you were close enough to be sweat on. That's what it's about.

"It's about creating thousands of moments with people."

Jett will take the stage with her band, the Blackhearts, at the Corn Palace Aug. 28 and make more of those same moments for her South Dakota fans.

Jett's performance is among five shows that comprise this year's Corn Palace Festival entertainment. Concerts begin Wednesday with Blake Shelton opening the annual festival at the Corn Palace. Thursday, comedian Herb Dixon will take the stage, followed by Jett on Friday, 2008 American Idol winner David Cook on Saturday and country star Ronnie Milsap Sunday.

Jett was immersed into pop culture at 15, when she left high school to tour with her first band, the Runaways. Since then, Jett has released eight platinum and gold albums and has had nine singles in the Top 40, including classic rock hits, "Bad Reputation," "I Love Rock and Roll" and "I Hate Myself for Loving You."

Now, Jett's early success with the band that sparked her remarkable career is on its way to the big screen. Jett, along Kenny Laguna, teamed with producers Art and John Linson for "The Runaways," a film now in production and due out early next year.

The film just finished shooting. Jett worked with the cast on set and said "Twilight" actress Kristen Stewart, who was cast to play Jett in the film, was great to work with.

Over the years, Jett said she never thought her time with the Runaways would be recreated.

"This was my first band -- it was my baby. It's hard to make a judgment when I was just on set shooting. I just hope it will be great," Jett said.

However the movie is received, it's likely to keep Jett in the spotlight. Already, industry magazines such as Rolling Stone are reporting on "The Runaways" and Jett will release a greatest hits album in early 2010 that will coincide with the movie.

On the record will be several new tracks.

With all the success she's accumulated over the years, Jett said she's taken a lot of shots about her personal style, being labeled the "external outsider."

"I just think it's important to be yourself. Girls today, they have a very small window of what they are allowed to do in life -- a very small role to fill. If you try that role and dress any different, wear your hair any different, you're immediately pounced on by people," she said.

She simply has stayed true to herself, and it's worked.

"I think so many times people shoot down other people's dreams," she said. "They say, 'You can't do that. What are you crazy?' Why not just give it a shot. At least in life you can say you've tried.

"You just need the strength to be OK to be afraid ... It's OK to be afraid."

Jett is only one of two female artists to be featured in Rolling Stone's "Greatest Guitarists of All Time." She is also the first major female artist to run her own record label.

Jett started Blackheart Records in 1980 with Laguna after 23 labels rejected her when she parted with the Runaways. Artists signed to the label include The Dollyrots, a Los Angeles pop-punk trio, and San Antonio-based Girl in a Coma.

Friday's Joan Jett show beings at 7 p.m. with opening act the Juke Box Zeroes. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by calling the Corn Palace Box Office at 995-8430 or 1-800-289-7469. Log on to to order tickets online.