In a recent interview with the 93.3 WMMR radio station, Joan Jett discussed her experience fronting NIRVANA at the band's 2014 induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Jett said that "it was petrifying" being asked to join drummer Dave Grohl, bassist Krist Novoselic and guitarist Pat Smear for a rendition of the 1991 smash hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit". The NIRVANA members hadn't performed a Kurt Cobain-written song together since their troubled frontman killed himself in 1994.
Joan recalled (hear audio below): "Getting a call was one of those things where you had both emotions — it was, like, 'Oh my God! I'm scared shitless. The reason I'm scared shitless is 'cause I know I have to say yes. I have to do this.' I mean, how, as a rock and roll fan, could you say no? As a NIRVANA fan? So, that was not a possibility — saying no."
She continued: "Being asked was such an honor. I didn't wanna read into it too much and think about it too much, so I just practiced and got it together. And luckily, we had some chances to go through the song before we had to actually play it that night. But, strangely, I was very calm, which is not normal. I should have a certain level of anxiety, and I'm glad I wasn't petrified, 'cause that makes it tough too. But I was strangely calm, which then gave me a sense it was all right, just karmically, that I was doing this. And I was calm."
Jett went on to say that "it was an amazing, amazing experience" to play and sing with the surviving members of NIRVANA. "I remember turning around and looking at Dave and just seeing his hair flying and thinking about, 'Wow! It must be really cool to play these songs,'" she said. "And Pat Smear I've known since he was in THE GERMS, 'cause I produced that band many, many years ago — in 1980, or whatever it was. And so he is in NIRVANA. And I look at him, and he's grinning ear to ear." As for Novoselic, Joan said: "He was so funny. I think he's the one that got me into the Hall Of Fame. 'Cause he was bitching afterwards, saying, 'Can you believe she's not in the Hall Of Fame?' So I think they guilted 'em into it."
Asked if Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, enjoyed Jett's version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Joan said: "She was there, but I didn't speak to her. I don't know her really enough to go up and say hi. She was around. I know she said hi to Dave and stuff. But we didn't come face to face. But I'm fine with her, as far as I know. I have no problem with Courtney."
Jett performed with NIRVANA again at last year's Cal Jam 18 in San Bernardino, California, and she said that she would be honored if she was ever asked again. "It's very heavy, though, because Kurt's fans are intense and it's a lot to take on," she told NME. "You just can never be sure if you're doing right, but you can only do the best you can do. And if the band asks me, that's as close as I can maybe get to Kurt giving me the thumbs up."
Jett played three songs with Grohl, Novoselic and Smear in San Bernardino, including "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
"Bad Reputation", the documentary that chronicles Jett's life and career, was released in September.
Photo credit: Roger Erickson