Skip to content

Joan Jett, Foo Fighters Give ‘Letterman’ Their ‘Bad Reputation’


A couple of years ago, the makers of the video game Rock Band struggled to come up with a connection between Joan Jett and Dave Grohl. “Let’s see: Jett’s first band was teen-punk sensations the Runaways … who were discovered and produced by notorious L.A. impresario Kim Fowley … who later co-wrote the KISS classic ‘Do You Love Me’ … which was then covered by Nirvana,” the game’s blog playfully suggested. “How’s that?”

No one will have to reach that far to find a link between the pioneering “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” badass and the everversatile Foo Fighters frontman anymore. On Sunday night, Jett joined the Foo Fighters onstage at Madison Square Garden in New York City for a cover of Jett’s early-’80s solo hit “Bad Reputation.” Then, on Tuesday night, they got together and did it again, only this time for a bigger audience via the Late Show With David Letterman. Watch clips of both performances below.

The rendition of the song itself is less noteworthy than the fact that these still-standing rock titans got together to play it in the first place. Though slightly more hard-charging than the 1980 original version, and with seriously tight instrumental backing from the Foos, these covers offer little that would surprise any fans with “Bad Reputation” grafted onto their cerebellums thanks to repeated viewings of Freaks and Geeks (it’s that TV show’s theme song). Little differences: On Letterman, Grohl sings the verse after the song’s key change; at MSG, Jett says she doesn’t give a “shit” about her lousy rep. Both performances are furiously energetic and fist-pumping.

Foo Fighters wrap up their current U.S. tour tonight in Boston, before heading to Australia, New Zealand, and Japan in support of latest album Wasting Light; check out our review of their tour kickoff here. Jett and her band the Blackhearts, meanwhile, recently landed their first nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s safe to say these rockers’ reputations are pretty well established.