On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82. From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend. Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day. For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet. And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).
In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post. On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40. On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1.
As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”
It’s been interesting and fun in my research for the blog posts of this special series paying tribute to Casey Kasem. Some might say it’s neither interesting NOR fun, but since Casey is my radio hero, and since I still am, at age 50, a proclaimed and proud chart nerd (I still check out the BILLBOARD Hot 100 each week, even though I don’t know most of the artists on there), I am digging this. No, literally, today I AM digging into BILLBOARD chart history by looking up all of the songs that reached No. 35 between 1979 and 1989, and there are around 40 of them. You could have Casey on repeat, saying, “And in at No. 35…and in at No. 35…”
If you look at the discography of the amazing Joan Jett, you can tell she had a penchant for cover songs, and then making them all her own – songs like “Crimson And Clover,” “Everyday People,” “Light Of Day,” “Roadrunner,” “Dirty Deeds,” “Love Hurts,” “Summertime Blues,” “Destination Unknown,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me?” and her huge No. 1 hit, “I Love Rock ’N’ Roll” – all of these gems were actually cover songs, whether you knew that or not (I’m betting you did).
For Joan’s third album, however (an album simply titled ALBUM), she took a different route – all but three of the album’s 11 songs were original songs, co-written by Joan and her longtime collaborator and producer, Kenny Laguna. “I Love Playing With Fire” was actually written by Joan herself, but this song originally was performed by Joan’s former 70s Punk band, The Runaways. One of the original songs on ALBUM was the effort’s first single (and album, er, ALBUM, opener), “Fake Friends.”
Debuting on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 68 in early July 1983, “Fake Friends” reached the Top 40 by the end of July, becoming the band’s fifth Top 40 hit in two years, and their first original composition to reach the Top 40. But, like many songs that reach the Top 40 in a short amount of time, for whatever reason, the songs lose steam and they peak quickly. In the case of “Fake Friends,” it peaked for two weeks at No. 35 in August 1983. Joan and Co. were gone from the Hot 100 after just 10 weeks.
After ALBUM’s second single, the aforementioned spirited cover of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” peaked at No. 37 in October 1983, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts wouldn’t return to the Top 40 until 1987, when the Bruce Springsteen-composed “Light Of Day” reached No. 33 on the Hot 100 in April of that year.
“Light Of Day” was the title song from the film of the same name, starring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett, her first film as an actress. Michael and Joan starred as brother and sister, and their band was called The Barbusters. On the Hot 100, “Light Of Day” was actually credited to The Barbusters, with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts in parentheses.
The next time Joan & Co. would chart the Hot 100 again on their own accord was in 1988, when Joan’s second original song to reach the Top 40, “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” reached No. 8.
Oft-credited as the Queen of Rock ’N’ Roll and the Godmother of Punk, Joan and The Blackhearts were rightfully inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015. Their last album was in 2013 (UNVARNISHED), and Joan and the band continue to tour.
Last year, on a tour I had hoped to see but couldn’t, they performed with Heart and Cheap Trick, and starting June 14, 2017, they head out on a Summer tour with 70s and 80s Rock legends, Boston. Don’t know if it’ll be this year, but one day I hope I get to see Joan Jett & The Blackhearts perform. It’s long overdue.
I suppose it’s a bit weird to highlight a song called “Fake Friends” on a day of heartbreak (sadly again) in London, and much love and unity at the impressive One Love Manchester concert in Manchester, England, but Joan Jett has never been one to back down or not tell it like it is, and neither should I, and neither should you.
And, if you should ever encounter one of these “fake friends,” whether on social media or in person, and feel dejected about the whole thing after you’ve told them to eff off, just remember what Joan says:
“Ya got nothin to lose / Ya don’t lose when you lose fake friends…”